I think we've all, by now, seen the early stages of a war of the watches breaking out between heavyweight innovators Apple and Samsung.
Not on people's wrists, of course – Apple's isn't on the market until next year and Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch just hasn't caught on. Whether these watches are too expensive or just too geeky right now it's not clear, but the concept is a huge indicator of where smart technology is heading. The idea, essentially, is why carry an expensive device around in your pocket or handbag when something that's already part of your daily look could perform the same function?
This week we've seen the release of something that can only be considered smart jewelry. And it made us ponder the role jewelry could play in this rapidly evolving landscape of wearable technology – one that is expected to be worth $6 billion by 2016.
On Sunday, San Francisco company Sense6 Design released a line of jewelry called Artemis, which they claim could help to save your life. The flagship products are pendants in gold, silver and solid palladium which use bluetooth technology to communicate with a cellphone. The idea is that the wearer can instantly make an emergency call using their GPS co-ordinates if they suddenly find themselves in danger. Not only that, but a microphone within the pendant records audio of the incident that could become vital evidence should the perpetrators be arrested.
Currently, Sense6 are looking to raise $200,000 so that they can build more of the jewelry, and their campaign was dragging on its heels at the time of writing. But we've no reason to believe this kind of thing couldn't catch on, provided there was a thriving market of competitive prices and a range of designs for people to choose from.
Sense6's idea might not come as a huge surprise – after all, it's basically an upgrade of medical alert ID bracelets which have been around for several years now. And brands like Cuff and Ringly are also on the market with jewelry that helps you keep track of calls and texts by connecting to your phone.
But you might just be blown away by this next one. It's not for the faint-hearted – but an Israeli graduate student has designed pieces of jewelry that embed into the wearer's veins and use their blood flow to generate electricity. Seriously.
If you're the kind of person whose phone is always running out of juice, look no further. Naomi Kizhner has come up with a range of designs that you could argue fit just a bit too closely for comfort. But her motivation for the project, which she calls Energy Addicts, is based on the huge issue of renewable energy and diminishing resources.
She told Cosmopolitan: “There are lots of developments of renewable energy resources, but the human body is a natural resource for energy that is constantly renewed, as long as we are alive.
“I wanted to explore the post-humanistic approach that sees the human body as a resource… Will we be willing to sacrifice our bodies in order to produce more energy? My intention is to provoke a discussion.”
The difficulty that wearable technology faces is in its ability to retain taste and style. A good example is in something we've already seen over the last couple of years: QR code jewelry. The idea here is that you can scan a pendant or charm bearing a QR code which then delivers a custom message. But this concept was always up against it – firstly because QR codes look hideous, and secondly because they were just never practical. In most cases you had to download an app to scan them, which rarely seemed worth the effort, and it comes as no surprise to see this technology already on its last legs.It's not an idea we can see catching on anytime soon – but give it 50 years and there might be a place for it.
As custom jewelry experts though, we're all about innovation and ideas. And what we've seen this year only perpetuates our belief that the potential of custom jewelry is truly limitless.
(Photos: (in order) Sportstagid, Kārlis Dambrāns, Unknown / Licence: Creative Commons)