At one point in time, it seemed like the smartwatch was all but dead in the water: most of them boasted sluggish performance and lack of truly must-have features that prevented them from becoming anything more than just a novelty. The deluge of them over the past recent years didn’t help matters, either.
Now, though, seems to be a sort of renaissance for the much-heralded smartwatch with the impending releases of products like the Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung Gear S3 — at least if the renaissance means they’re finally becoming what they should have been in the first place. Alongside these fresh releases is the Sgnl, Innomdle Lab’s Bluetooth-enabled smart strap that functions by itself or as a companion to a smartwatch to let users conduct phone calls with just the tip of their finger. This happens through its Bone Conductivity Unit working together with a paired smartphone and an algorithm to amplify a person’s voice through the finger and into the closed chamber of the ear. This allows for clear calls and privacy of conversation since no one will be able to hear the other person. An optional smartphone app lets users set additional smart alerts, set call reminders, and even track some activity with the strap, as well. $139 gets those interested their very own Sgnl slated to be shipped in February 2016. Innomdle Labs is looking for $50,000 by October 8th, 2016 to see success.
Be prepared to receive lots of stares when using the Sgnl because no matter how you do it, it will always look weird to be talking to your fingertip. Outside of the potential awkwardness, the idea is incredibly sound and cleverly implemented. The strap itself sports a comfortable form factor and seems right at home in a variety of contexts. The only problem is a possible lack of compatibility with others apps with calling features, like Skype and Facebook Messenger. Oh, and the fact that most people don’t even talk on the phone. In that way, perhaps the Sgnl’s biggest challenge is convincing users to keep using it after they realize how little they actually talk to people.