My grandmother always used to tell me, with a trademark mischievous glimmer in her eye, that "jewelry is an investment, darling." True, but in 2015, it's also gotta multitask. A London-based tech start-up has created Kerv, a ring that can be used to pay for purchases at 38 million locations worldwide that accept touchless payments, including Starbucks, McDonalds, and London's famously crowded public transportation networks. It also replaces electronic key fobs and stores emergency contact and medical information.
The sleek wearable tech will come in ten sizes and two colors — black or white. It's made from zirconia ceramic, a super-durable material that's almost as scratch-resistant as diamond, plus it's waterproof, so you can keep it on for swims, runs, and in the rain.
So does Kerv top a smartwatch? Let me count the ways. First of all, it works independently, and doesn't need to be synced or paired with a smartphone. And — here's the amazing part — it never needs to be charged. This is selling point enough for me; I'm typing this as I myself am trapped beneath a tangle of cords — my laptop is competing for socket space with my lamp and my iPhone is plugged into my computer.
But is it chic? Kerv is pretty close. It's definitely not fugly, and certainly won't clash with your other jewelry or look like a nineties-era ringwatch. (Remember those?) If I had my way, this wearable tech would look like a YSL Arty ring, but it's actually much more stylish than any other wearable tech I've seen so far.
The team behind Kerv started developing the tech in April 2014, and had a working prototype ready within a month. They launched a Kickstarter campaign for funding on September 24th and within less than a week are already more than halfway to their goal of $118,182 (If you're wondering, that rather odd number is the exchange rate for £77,000).
Assuming they meet their goal, the rings will go into production and will be ready by April 2016, making it just two years between concept and fruition. Kerv is estimated to retail for $75.
Now let's talk money. You'll need a special Kerv account to use the ring, and payment limits will be pretty low to start; no word yet if the limits will be raised. For the first go, users can make payments up to a certain amount, up to $25. So this doesn't quite replace your plastic for shopping sprees, but it'll be perfect for grabbing an energy bar after a run, paying for drinks at a concert, or purchasing subway rides (all places where it's safer to leave your wallet at home, after all). You load it up online, and it works like a debit account, not like a credit card. You can set up autopay to top-up the account, and you can also lock it online (of through the app) whenever you want — say, it gets lost or stolen.
Kerv really seems to have all the bases covered, from durability to design, functionality (hello, no charger!) and security. I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these!
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