The Orii smart ring lets you control your smartphone using only your voice



Orii is a new smart ring that gives you full
hands-free control of your smartphone. The device connects to
your phone with Bluetooth and it can be used to provide crystal
clear audio, which makes it an interesting tool for those with
sight or hearing issues.

It works using bone conduction technology so that, when wearing
the ring, simply putting a finger to your ear will give clear
and crisp playback of whatever is running on your phone. That
could be a phone call, a music or video clip, etc.

Likewise, Orii enables a user to go completely hands-free with
the device through the use of voice controls. The ring can be
used to make calls, send messages, post to social media, and
more. It works directly with Siri and Google Assistant to
give Android and iOS users full hands-free control of their
device’s virtual assistant, while the companion app enables
customized alerts via LED lights and vibrations.

The ring has been in development since 2015 and this week
it launched on Kickstarter where it costs
upwards of $99. Already, the campaign has surpassed its $30,000
goal with 27 days remaining at the time of writing.

Orii is the brainchild of Kevin Wong, whose father has been
visually impaired since he was a teenager. Wong told TechCrunch
that he originally set out to develop a device that could help
his father, and others like him, get more from their phone. In
this current era of smartphone connectivity, Wong was worried
that a lack of accessibility options put his father at a
disadvantage.

Origami Labs, the company behind Orii, was founded by Wong
(CEO) and three other MBA students from the Hong Kong
University of Science and Technology. The team initially went
through a range of different types of device in the quest for a
solution, that included a smartwatch and other wearable
prototypes. Eventually they settled on the ring as a form
factor, and the past year or so has been dedicated to packing
the technology into the limited real estate for the product to
work.

And it works. I’ve tried multiple close-to-finished versions
and found the audio clarity to be excellent. I could hear a
music clip clearly during a loud after-party at our TechCrunch China event in Shenzhen, for
one, and it worked equally well at the very busy Rise
tech event in Hong Kong this month.

Wong told me that already Origami Labs has sold commitments of
devices to medical and care institutions. On the business-side,
the company raised money from Alibaba’s Hong Kong
entrepreneurship fund and Radiant Venture Capital, while
it has relationships with China-based manufacturers.

Beyond offering new accessibility options for the visually or
hearing impaired, Origami Labs is aiming to build out a voice
assistant platform that will be useful for anyone. Piggybacking
on technologies like Siri and Google Assistant, Wong said he
sees potential for the ring to act as a contextually-aware
prompt.

That’s to say that it could be capable of being triggered by a
keyword and then acting on that to make an action. For example,
asking if you want to book an Uber based on hearing the word
‘taxi’. The team is working to develop a solution that listens
in passively, and not intrusively, so as to maximize battery
life and protect user privacy.

The initial Orii rings don’t ship with that capability, but
Origami Labs is working to ship an update that could be pushed
over-the-air to all devices to equip them with the features.
First of all though, the priority is to complete the Kickstarter
campaign 
and ship all orders by February.


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The Orii smart ring lets you control your smartphone using only your voice

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