Wearable Technology That Doesn’t Wear on Consumers:
The Kovert Altruis Stone
Technology may just be a tool, but it is a tool that empowers people. When used correctly, technology has the potential to disentangle our messy lives, streamline our work, and connect us to a wealth of opportunity. When used erroneously, technology can make us feel tethered to an invisible wall. The urge to incessantly check our phones and email accounts for missed calls or messages can feel daunting. The very thing that can free us and connect us, can lead us to feeling imprisoned or even worse: detached. London based designer, Kate Unsworth knew the feeling of technology based detachment well. The disconnect felt overwhelming to a fledgling designer like Unsworth; after all, navigating the waters of technological burn out can feel exhausting for someone not immersed in the waters of the industry. In Unsworth’s case, her tech breakdown eventually lead to a design breakthrough. In 2013, her messy relationship with technology lead to the creation of the wearable tech piece known as the Altruis stone.
At the time Altruis was conceptualized, Unsworth was working as a tech management consultant in London. While the job was somewhat fulfilling, Unsworth felt drained by her obligation to constantly be available. Working across multiple time zones, checking email and phone messages every few minutes and living a 24/7 life online proved a disheartening reality. The stress of the job eventually forced her to consider what life could be like if the technology actually made life simpler. What if there was a tool that could simplify life, cut out unnecessary notifications, and only alert people to the stuff that actually matters? Unsworth answered that question by creating design startup Kovert in London, England. The small start up was phase one in bringing the Altruis stone to life.
Kovert’s Altruis stone is a gemlike centerpiece of zirconia ceramic that is embedded with a chip that vibrates to alert the individual wearing the piece of new texts, calls, and other iPhone notifications. Altruis allows users to set specific keywords in apps or emails so that the stone will send a notification if the word is used in a message. The stone is designed to fit into a fashion forward ring, necklace, or bracelet designed by the Kovert team. Once an Altruis wearer downloads a simple iOS app, they can set up two distinct profiles that are called “work” and “family” by default. For each profile, the wearer selects key contacts and develops a list of people whose communications should produce alerts. The option of choosing different vibration patterns in order to identify the type of communication is also offered. For example, a call might produce a repeated vibration, whereas as text might produce a single vibration. While two profiles might seem limiting, it demands prioritization.
A unique facet of Kovert’s Altruis is their focus on elegant polished designs. While most tech centered pieces are enveloped in thick rubber wrist bands and brightly colored juvenile fittings; the Altruis line of jewelry is plated in precious metals such as platinum and rose gold. The “pretty” aspect of this model has sparked massive interest in tech savvy and fashion minded individuals. The jewelry, including the Altruis stone insert, starts at $300, though some pieces can go as high as $590. While some individuals have expressed worry that the metal elements found in the jewelry could affect the connectivity between the embedded chip in the ceramic stone and the iPhone, Kovert kept that reality in mind while designing the line. The startup went to great lengths to ensure that connectivity issues would not plague Altruis wearers.
Though Altruis and Kovert are still in their infancy, Unsworth and her team of tech geniuses are already working to improve the stone and overall design. As tech rapidly advances, the elements involved in the Altruis will also advance, becoming smaller, more powerful, and wholly more efficient. With this advancement, Kovert will be met with even more possibilities for integration, including earrings and other small stones. Kovert is also in the process of developing an Android based app which will be released in late 2016. In addition Kovert has been approached by several high end designers to include the technology in fashion pieces such as hats, belts, and even sports bras.
Altruis was born out of Unsworth’s idea that if a person no longer needs to check their smartphone or tablet every few minutes, they will be able to live fuller more enriched lives. To create meaningful digital connections in a sleek straightforward fashion, allows consumers to simply wear tech instead of being worn out by tech. The Altruis stone is accomplishing just that.
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