A longtime paragon for crowdfunding and hardware success in Hong Kong, Origami Labs announced a set of gesture-control features for its voice-powered smart ring, ORII, at The Mills Fabrica’s Techstyle X space on July 16, 2019. Having captured the hearts and ears of users since it launched in 2015, the wearable device–which uses bone conduction technology to enable calls and interactions with voice assistants–is going a step further in its screen-free capabilities.
Origami Labs Co-founder and CEO Kevin Johan Wong, Co-founder and CMO Emile Chan, and their team demonstrated the new Gesture User Interface (GUI) features at the launch event (the other co-founders include COO Marcus Leung-Shea and CTO Lewis McFadyen). The GUI currently includes tapping motions to trigger voice assistants, message dictation, and track skipping, among other functions. They highlighted how the device could also be integrated into a smart home setting, where a double tap pointing horizontally can switch the lights on and off.
What’s unexpected is that the new functions are built into all existing rings, meaning anyone who owns a device can activate the new GUI features simply by updating the complementary software. The ORII team planned for such functions since the initial ideation stage, building a six-axis gyroscope accelerometer into every manufactured device.
“These features were significant enough where we could build them into a new generation of products. But we didn’t want to do that. So every ORII ring that’s on the market today will be able to use the update to get all the features that you saw today,” said Wong.
The origin of GUI traces back to Origami Labs’s founding story. Having witnessed the difficulties his father faced in using smartphones as a visually impaired individual, Wong set out to create a device that would make screen-free access easily accessible. The addition of gestures was a natural next step for the voice-powered wearable, where each feature is designed to be as intuitive as possible for the user.
Currently, the gestures can be controlled via the ORII app and cannot be customized, but this limitation is set to change with each new update. Combined with the company’s ambitions in the Internet-of-Things space, the permutations for ORII, both in terms of its voice and gesture-driven features, are endless.
The device currently retails for US$199 and is available in-store in over 40 retail locations across the U.S., United Kingdom, Netherlands, Japan, and Taiwan.