It is called the “internet of things.” Whether it is a refrigerator that informs you that you are out of milk or a baby’s diaper that will text you when it needs changing, more and more common objects are going to be connected to the internet.
We want to wear the technology in a beautiful way but not in a clunky cyborg look
Smart, connected, wearable devices may be the next evolution for the jewellery industry. It started with thumb drives built into attractive pendants. Now we have a smartwatch that connects to your smart phone via Bluetooth to inform you of new calls and texts, monitors the local weather and let you play Angry Birds during your commute to work. Unfortunately these watches are — to put it bluntly — Ugly.
Consumers are fascinated by the practicalities of wearable devices but don’t want a clunky cyborg look. These devices must be attractive or they will just sit in a drawer. My own mother had the need for a Life Alert device but refused to wear one because she felt it made her look old. Had it been incorporated into beautiful jewellery, she would have worn it all the time. This is an opportunity for creative jewellery designers to take useful applications and turn them into beautiful wearable art.
Some of the applications currently in development will have a tremendous and positive impact in people’s lives. Doctors will be able to monitor a patient’s vital signs in real time. Wearable GPS devices can keep track of wandering Alzheimer patients or let parents know the whereabouts of small children (Or cheating spouses). How about earrings that double as MP3 players? Or a ring that unlocks the door and turns on the lights when you come home? Already there is a bracelet that keeps track of exposure to the Sun’s rays and makes recommendations on when to use sunscreen.
The possibilities are endless but developing the devices is dependent on the realm of technology and engineering. As jewellers, we have the ability to make these devices wearable and beautiful. We are about to enter a new world of jewellery that can move beyond mere ornamentation and become practical or even life-saving tools. I look forward to this marriage of technology and the art of jewellery.