Yesterday, I received my long-awaited NFC ring in the mail. And it is awesome. Well, as awesome as you can expect it to be anyway. I had backed them on kickstarter about a year ago, and now that they've worked through their issues, rings are coming to those who backed. Its neat technology, and it's got some interesting uses. At the moment all I'm using it for is unlocking my phone.
The concept is simple, its a titanium ring, with two NFC inlays. One you deem as Private, which should reside on the palm side of your hand, and one you deem as public. You can write whatever you like to the public side, and then use their unlock app to write an unlock code to the private side. I've written a link to my web site on the public side for now, until I come up with something more interesting.
It's a pretty neat idea. Wearable tech. You can pre-order your own on their site if you'd like.
I made a brief video on interacting with the ring using their Apps.
I'd like to talk a little bit about the ring's interaction with the Moto-x, which is the phone I currently own. The X has some neat integrated features. That let you do things like, open the camera with a flick of your wrist, and keep the phone unlocked while you're paired with a trusted device, like your car stereo. All of these are tied into the stock lock screen, and when you replace that lock screen with the NFC Ring's unlock app, it breaks those features. So I did a little research, and found out how to get around the problem.
Motorola has their own NFC unlock app called the Skip. It's a magnetic tag that you can latch on to your clothing or whatever. The Moto-X has built in support for the Skip. It seems to make sense that you should be able to use that app along with the NFC Ring in order to do the magic. The problem is, without a skip tag, Motorola doesn't give you a way of actually activating the Skip Setup app! Which is pretty frustrating. Once you have access to the app however, you can setup as many nfc tags as you'd like, regardless of whether theyre a skip or not.
So i went to XDA, and asked. Turns out, there's an app that writes to any NFC chip, to make it look like a skip! So I went and grabbed that, and wrote it to the private side of my ring. Poof! I now have a skip, and I can use the Motorola skip intergration of my Moto-X! One caveat, once its written, the moto-x is no longer able to re-write that tag. The Skip app on the phone intercepts those tags, so you cant interact with them in any other way. However, you can still do it from another phone, that isnt a moto-x. You can read about it all on XDA-Developers.
In all, a very cool product. I'm quite pleased. The only thing I wish I'd done differently in my order is, I wish I had ordered the inlays in different colors. It's impossible to tell which side is private and which is public at a glance. I'd have probably gone transparent (for the cool factor) on the public side, and black or white for the private side. Maybe i'll order a second ring someday if this becomes enough of a problem.