Those who take a strong interest in both jewelry and technology will be thrilled to learn that all over the world, the fashion industry is merging with the world of technology. Though not a new idea by any means, an increasing number of jewelry designers are incorporating digital items – such as cameras and memory chips – into their decorative products. While the forms and functions of different types of digital jewelry vary greatly, they all have one thing in common: a creative dedication to making the most beautiful things in life functional, and vice versa!
In 1995, Jostens Inc. paved the way for digital jewelry by introducing the world to digital decoder rings. Embedded with a memory chip, this ring allowed the person wearing it to access their personal computer. When accessing the computer, the person wearing it simply touched a button that allowed the memory chip in the ring and the chips in the computer to communicate, thereby confirming the ringbearer’s identity as the computer owner. The ring also had the ability to control doors in locations such as a bank vaults, offices, or laboratories. Every digital decoder ring sold by Jostens Inc. has a unique serial number engraved into the memory chip, which helps thwart potential thieves’ ability to clone the chips. A similar example of high tech jewelry, and one which built on the trail blazed by Jostens, is the MyRingGuard. When touched with the index finger and thumb, MyRingGuard will alert the authorities to an emergency through the use of Bluetooth technology. As of 2010, this product could only be used in conjunction with the Android smart phone, though newer models that operate autonomously are already in the testing phase. Other high tech rings that combine fashion and technology include USB engagement rings, Apple ring remotes, miniature cameras, and rings that double as miniature microphones.
Die-hard female computer geeks who also love fashion will definitely want to purchase the Kioku Flash Card necklace. This piece of jewelry combines fashion with cutting edge technology by serving as both a necklace and a USB drive, with digital storage sizes ranging from 1 GB to a whopping 32 GB. Also intending to capture the female geek market, Apple is soon hoping to release the iBangle, a touch-sensitive bracelet that can be used to control the iPhone, iPad and iPod. They are currently testing the technology to see if it will be successful, as well as refining its exterior design to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Similarly, Apple’s iPod Nano bracelet – which serves as a carrying case for the iPod Nano – combines 1980s nostalgia with 21st century functionality to create a truly distinct, trendy jewelry piece.
Perhaps one of the most innovative items emerging from this hybrid industry of high tech jewelry and fashion is the Loop Micro USB. These are USB cables that come in various styles and colors, and which can be used to charge a Blackberry, iPhone, iPod or Android. For ease of portability, they come with a magnet that allows the user to turn the USB cord into a bracelet at a moment’s notice. They are currently available for purchase overseas, and should be hitting the North American market later this year.
As computer components become increasingly smaller and more powerful, they will more frequently be used in jewelry and other items one would not think to associate with computers. Chances are, most jewelry designers never dreamed their pieces would one day contain computer chips, so it is not out of the realm of possibility to see items such as watches, sunglasses and even dresses coming equipped with small computers in the near future. One example of this is the Twirkle minidress, made by Cute Circuit. This dress is equipped with LED technology that makes the crystals on the dress glow and sparkle. The dress uses a rechargeable battery to power the crystals, and it can then be recharged using USB technology. TriSpecs, for its part, is a company that produces sunglasses that double as a portable stereo. The sunglasses are a cross between a Bluetooth and a pair of headphones, and they allow the user to easily switch back and forth between surround sound and voice communication. Each pair of sunglasses can be controlled with the push of a button, and fashionistas will rest easy knowing that the sunglasses are available in various colors.
The aforementioned items are just the tip of the iceberg; in the future, it will be possible for a watch to use wireless mobile technology to automatically change its own time zone when the wearer travels to a new city. Shoes, meanwhile, may come standard-equipped with a pedometer, and workout gear may be able to measure someone’s heart rate and blood pressure. There are so many possibilities when it comes to what can be done by combining technology and fashion, and the truth is that we are only just getting started; the future is looking bright, indeed!