Finally, Wearable Tech That Keeps You Safe

"Wearable technology" is a dude-centric buzzword these days, as well as a total race to the top; i.e., whoever brings wearable tech from dream to reality will make millions! MILLIONS! The biggest challenge for a really successful piece of wearable technology lies in hitting that sweet spot between functionality (we could have a bracelet that plays through our iTunes library…but do we need a bracelet that plays through our iTunes library?) and aesthetics (despite a recent "stylish" redesign, Google Glass is still weird-looking).

But a new jewelry collection has managed to hit that sweet spot and then some. Cuff, a line of smart jewelry born out of a dinner party conversation between designers and techies about the future of technology, puts just as much of an emphasis on form as on function. Co-founder Deepa Sood, the former VP of Product Development at Restoration Hardware, knows that if the pieces don't look good, they won't sell — no matter how many clever tricks they can perform.

The Cuff jewelry pieces are simply and pretty: a thick gold bangle, leather wristbands, an opera-inspired beaded necklace. But as the tired aphorism goes, it's what's on the inside that counts. Hidden inside each piece of Cuff jewelry is a tiny wireless component called a CuffLinc™, which, when pressed for three seconds, instantly delivers an emergency alert to everyone in the wearer's chosen network.

This network, which Cuff is calling your "protective circle," is set up beforehand via the Cuff app. You can add whoever you want to your network as long as they have the app, too — they don't need to own a piece of Cuff jewelry. (This is good news for Dad, who'd rather not wear a gold bracelet, but will sleep better at night knowing you've got yours on.)

Different tapping patterns can be set up to send different messages — for example, two quick taps could send your fiancé a pre-composed message asking him to start dinner STAT or the wedding is off— but the really exciting thing about Cuff is the simply, savvy role it promises to play in personal safety. "Our goal is to re-imagine what wearables and what personal security can look like," Sood told us. "There seems to be a consensus that personal safety doesn't warrant good design — we disagree!"

Here's how those emergency alerts really work. Let's say your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and you're pretty sure there's a crazed farmer with a pitchfork stumbling toward you through the nearby fields. Press your bracelet for three seconds, and your pre-programmed network will receive an SOS message that includes the GPS location of your phone, along with any other information you've programmed into your app for emergency alerts (information about medication, for example). The SOS is subtle; no beeping sounds or flashing lights to attract unwanted attention, just a brief vibration to let you know that the message was sent. Your little CuffLinc is also persistent, and will keep sending regular alerts to your circle until someone responds. As an extra bonus, it's waterproof and holds a charge for a year, so all you have to worry about is actually wearing it — and staying out of dark cornfields.

The jewelry is available for pre-order now, but products won't ship until the fall. Still, Cuff hopes to eventually work with other jewelers — maybe even independent Etsy designers — to create a huge line of jewelry that works with the CuffLinc, so if a leather wristband isn't your style, hopefully you'll find something you like soon. Sleek, personalized jewelry that just wants to protect you? Maybe the dream of wearable tech really is coming true.

Image: Cuff/Facebook