A plug-in hybrid BMW sports coupe, gold-plated encrypted iPhones, and another player in smart jewelry vied for the attention of the well-to-do last week at The Luxury Technology Show, hosted by New York-based events company Rand Luxury.
These gatherings bring out typically pricier examples of consumer technology, aimed at folks who might be interested in dropping $5,000 and up for a smartphone designed to eliminate any trace of their calls (see slideshow).
Some items spoke to more everyday use. San Francisco-based Cuff, for instance, brought out an array of smart jewelry in one of a growing number of efforts to make wearable devices more mainstream. “We wanted to reimagine what wearables look like and also what they do,” said founder Deepa Sood.
Rather than performing a laundry list of tasks, she said, Cuff has just three functions: activity tracking, message notifications, and emergency alerts.
At the heart of Cuff is a removable module, where its technology resides, that can be transferred from one piece of jewelry to another. So far Cuff has nine products, including necklaces, bracelets, and, naturally, cuffs, with more in the works. “Many women, myself included, don’t wear the same jewelry every day,” Sood said.
Smart jewelry has a variety of players rushing to market, including New York-based Ringly, which is backed by First Round Capital, High Line Venture Partners, and Andreesen Horowitz. At least one entrant to the field seems to have faltered, though: The website of ringblingz, a graduate of the first class from the R/GA Accelerator, is not active and e-mails to the startup bounce.
For its part, Cuff raised a $5 million Series A round in January, led by New Enterprise Associates, with Tugboat Ventures and Tandem Capital participating. The startup also entered into a manufacturing and distribution partnership with Richline Group to get jewelry in more consumers’ hands.
The appeal of smart jewelry is the simplicity that lets people stay connected to their smartphones without constantly staring at the screens, Sood said. Cuff, like its rivals, is trying to be a fashionable option. “We don’t want to be an iPhone duct-taped to your wrist,” she said.