Hong Kong tech start-up Origami Labs is developing a ring called Orii that lets people with sight or hearing loss control their smartphones using their voice.
When wearing the ring, users can simply put a finger to their ear and the device will play whatever is running on their smartphone – whether it's music, a video or a phone call. It connects to smartphones via Bluetooth and uses bone conduction technology to give wearers hands-free control.
The ring can also be used to make calls, send messages or post on social media. It connects with Siri and Google Assistant so iOS and Android users can enjoy hands-free control of their device's virtual assistant.
Founder Kevin Wong created the device as he wanted to provide his visually impaired father with a tool to help him get more use out of his smartphone.
Origami Labs has already sold commitments of devices to medical and care institutions, Wong told TechCrunch. He explained that in the future the ring could complete tasks after being triggered by keywords.
A campaign for the device on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has surpassed its $30,000 goal. The first batch is set to ship in February 2018.
Designing with empathy is crucial to supporting marginalised consumers and breaking free from social stigma, and the market for products targeting overlooked minority groups is growing. See Diversity Outlook Scenario for more.
For more on how technology is making the divide between digital and human less obvious, see IFA 2016: Personal Electronics.