Monday, June 24, 2024
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There’s a big problem with smart rings


A person wearing the Oura Ring and the RingConn Smart Ring.
The Oura Ring (left) and the RingConn Smart Ring Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Companies that make smart rings have a problem on their hands. Or fingers.

Despite smart rings being a fairly new set of products, most of them are already lacking creativity when it comes to names. They all seem happy to pick a say-what-it-is name and be done with it. I get why, but it’s not good enough for a product that straddles both tech and fashion.

Yes, it’s a smart ring

A person wearing the Ultrahuman Ring Air and the Oura Ring.
The Ultrahuman Ring Air (black) and the Oura Ring Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

What do I mean? Every product name uses the word “ring” or “smart ring” in it. We’ve got the Oura Ring, the RingConn Smart Ring, the Ultrahuman Ring Air, the Circular Ring Slim, and a host of smartish NFC payment rings like the Mclear RingPay. Samsung’s forthcoming smart ring is called the Galaxy Ring, and even Movano can’t fully commit to its Evie name, as the full name is the Evie Ring.

We’ve quickly established all these products are smart rings, with RingConn doubling down by putting the word Ring in its company name as well, just in case there was any doubt about what type of product it currently makes. I appreciate that at this point, some people will be reading and thinking, “I don’t care what it’s called, only how it works,” and that’s a reasonable statement, for the technology fan.

Calling something what it is happens throughout the tech industry, and for wearables, we only need to look at the Apple Watch for a clue as to why we get so many “Watch” products and why its influence may have spilled over into other wearables. The Apple Watch has a 22% share of the smartwatch market, far more than any other company, and right from the beginning, competitors made sure everyone knew they also made a smartwatch, just like Apple. See the Huawei Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch, and the LG Watch for evidence.

Early days, but that’s no excuse

Various smart rings together on a table.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Smart rings are still in the fairly early stages of development as a category, where we’re all being introduced to a relatively new product and gradually being sold on its ability. This essential education is being handled by marketing teams, but when the meeting where they have to pick a name comes along, all seem to agree the best (and quickest) thing to do is make it very obvious right there on the box what we’re buying.

It’s all very boring and predictable. So, what am I suggesting instead? Any marketers in the audience will no doubt be saying it’s crucial to give a product a clear name, and that’s why creativity sometimes takes a back seat. I’m no marketing guru, but I also know that calling a smart ring the “Stratus Fox” wouldn’t inform anyone of anything about it. That said, there really has to be a middle ground between utterly dull and totally abstract.

After all, we don’t lust after a Ferrari Car, but a Ferrari Roma, a Ferrari Daytona, or a Ferrari Purosangue. Even those models without evocative names that use letters and numbers instead don’t have “Car” as a suffix. We’re too far down the “Watch” road to change that tedious naming convention, but the time to do something about smart ring nomenclature is now — before it gets too ingrained.

Take the lead from the luxury world

Smart rings are as much about fashion as they are about technology, and we should have some affinity for them before we put them on our fingers. Much of that starts with what we refer to them as, and companies should be taking the lead from how luxury watchmakers and jewelry brands approach names.

Bvlgari makes the B.Zero1, one of the most recognizable rings in the world, while Tiffany uses the year of its formation, 1837, in its product names or integrates fun references to its designs like with the Return to Tiffany collection. Sure, the word “ring” is often included in the description, but these memorable, interesting true names give the product an identity.

It happens throughout the watch world too. The Rolex Submariner, the Tudor Black Bay, the Omega Seamaster, and the Zenith El Primero are just some of the instantly recognizable names that don’t include the word “watch.” It’s not like these names have only just been introduced, either. Zenith first released its revolutionary El Primero in 1969, and it was just as forward-thinking then as any smart ring is today. Tag Heuer and Montblanc already know this, and that’s why it’s not the Montblanc Watch or Tag Heuer Watch, but the Connected Calibre E4 and the Summit.

The names they deserve

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Ring teased at Unpacked 2024.
Samsung Galaxy Ring Digital Trends

Samsung looks set to call its first smart ring the Galaxy Ring, but will Apple call its smart ring the Apple Ring should such a product arrive? It’s very likely, as its mobile products all share similar, rather obvious naming systems — iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad — but that shouldn’t mean every other smart ring maker must adopt it ahead of time in some vague attempt to ensure it gets any sweet search engine optimization (SEO) benefits that may come with having a somewhat similar name to the industry giants.

A future where every smart ring is called a smart ring, and every sequel is denoted simply by a number, isn’t very appealing or appropriate. Smart rings are exciting new products, with their origins firmly rooted in jewelry, luxury, and fashion. Not treating them as another tech commodity and instead creating imaginative, yet representative names for them befits just how much potential they have to go beyond the tech world in a way that, sadly, most smartwatches have not.

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