NFC Ring 2016 review

{ 18 comments }

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The NFC Ring is back with a new Kickstarter campaign, an updated look and improved tech under the hood… or I guess I should say under the band since it’s a ring. Smartphones are cool and smart watches may be fun, but a smart ring is the ultimate in geek gear. Let’s check out what’s new with one of my favorite wearable gadgets.

Note: Click images for a large view

First of all, you might be familiar with NFC (Near Field Communication) if you’ve purchased a new Bluetooth speaker in the last year or so. Many of the latest speakers now feature an NFC tag that you can use to easily pair the speaker with your smartphone using a simple tap. But, you might not know that there’s much more you can do with NFC.  By programming NFC tags, you can automate tasks such as unlocking your phone, doors, sending SMS messages, and much more.

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Two years ago I had the opportunity to review the original NFC Ring. You can see it in the image above on the left, and the new improved NFC Ring 2016 is the one on the right.

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The new NFC Ring is made of an advanced Ceramic instead of Titanium and is water resistant up to 50 meters (164 feet). I was sent the Horizon version which is black with a transparent window over one of the NFC tags. If you look closely, you can see the antenna coil for the NFC tag in the image above. The newly updated NFC Ring’s read distance has been increased by at least 3 times more than the original NFC Ring.

The Kickstarter project will also offer another version of the ring that has a carbon fiber band over one NFC tag. Stretch goals will allow for additional styles.

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A second NFC tag is directly opposite on the bottom of the ring. The idea, just like with the first generation of the NFC Ring, is that you have a public tag on one side of the ring and a private tag on the other. You can make a fist to use the forward facing tag and use your open hand/palm to use the private / hidden tag. I was a little worried that the improved working distance would cause issues when holding my phone in the hand wearing the ring. But so far I’ve not had any issues with the ring triggering a tag when I didn’t want it to.

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The inside of the ring is etched with the NFC Ring logo. This helps you feel how the ring is oriented on your finger without really having to look at it. Just slide the ring to the tip of your finger and rotate till you feel the etching. Slide it back on and the public tag will be on top. Of course if you’d rather have the public tag be the side with the visible tag, you can do that too. It’s completely up to you.


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The new size and ceramic material make the NFC Ring look a lot nicer than the first version in my opinion.

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I found the new ring to be more comfortable to wear too. The slick ceramic tends to stick to your finger so it won’t rotate, which is a good thing since the tags will always be lined up correctly when you need to use them.


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The NFC Ring has to be programmed in order take advantage of all its geeky goodness. Programming is done using the NFC Ring Control app or any other NFC tag writing app. The NFC Ring Control app will let you do simple things like program the tag with a web link, text, vCard, link to a Twitter user, link to a Facebook page, Youtube video or channel, or Etherpad link. The storage has been increased 7 times with this new version of the ring (888 bytes of user-accessible storage), so if you want to do something a little more fancy, you’ll need to use other NFC tag writing apps like my favorites, NFC Tools and NFC Tasks.

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Another app that you can use will program one of the tags in the ring so that it can be used to unlock your phone without having to swipe, use a PIN number or have the phone rooted. I thought this would be the greatest thing ever, but ended up programming the tags to do other things like send a text message to Jeanne when I get home from work and I have the other tag programmed to launch Pandora, wait 10 seconds and then call Jeanne at work. Yes, with NFC Tasks you can stack a bunch of commands onto one tag. It’s awesome!

What about privacy and security? Here’s what they say:

We wouldn’t be coming to Kickstarter if these were the only improvements, though. The new tags now support locking: either flip a bit or, for added security, set your own passcode and the data on your ring is safe from being overwritten – either accidentally or maliciously. The new tags also include an interaction counter: if you’ve ever wanted to know how many people you gave your contact details to at an event, we’ve got you covered.

I’m really happy with the updates they’ve done to the NFC Ring 2016. It’s made very well and should last for many years. Having a ring on your finger that can be programmed and reprogrammed (over 100,000 times) to automate often performed tasks and send bits of data is a lot of fun to play with and useful too.

The Kickstarter campaign for the NFC Ring 2016 is seeking £50,000 ($75,676 US) with an estimated delivery in December if successfully funded.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by NFC Ring. Please visit their site for more info and Kickstarter to order one.

 

Product Information

Price:£18 for early bird pledge, £23 regular price ($27.25 - $34.81)
Manufacturer:NFC Ring
Retailer:Kickstarter
Pros:
  • Improved operating distance
  • Updated storage capacity
  • Updated security
  • No batteries / charging required
Cons:
  • None
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Reviews
{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Sandee Cohen October 1, 2015, 10:28 am

    I know nothing about NFC since the iPhone and Apple Watch don’t do anything with it.

    But tell me if this would be possible:

    Couple getting married would each wear NFC rings tied to each other’s ring. Then when one person steps out of NFC range, an alert would appear on the phone or watch.

    When the other person comes back into range, another alert.

    Actually, this might be super helpful for parents with small children. Or adults with memory or cognitive impaired parents.

    • Jeff October 1, 2015, 10:40 am

      Wow! Talk about keeping your spouse on a short leash. Glad these weren’t around when I got married. My wife would have suddenly developed a new love for technology. LOL

      • Julie Strietelmeier October 1, 2015, 10:53 am

        I’m not sure what you mean by a keeping your spouse on a short leash 🙂 If you’re referring to how I have my tags programmed, it’s just to save me time navigating my phone to call a specific number. It’s like the speed dial feature we used to have when our phones had physical buttons.

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 1, 2015, 10:51 am

      No, that won’t work because NFC requires a much shorter distance to communicate. This ring that I’ve reviewed has to be within about an inch (3cm) of the receiving device. You also can’t link the rings together. They transmit data but do not receive data back (other than rewriting).

      • Sandee Cohen October 1, 2015, 12:08 pm

        No an inch is much too short a leash.

  • Charles Strom October 1, 2015, 10:47 am

    I purchased their earlier ring quite some time ago and have never been able to use it consistently since the operational range is so small as to be useless. This is such a widespread problem as to render the device problematic at best.

    This company should offer some kind of incentive for early adopters to recognize their teething pains.

    • Deas October 1, 2015, 3:20 pm

      Hi Charles, the new ring is improved with the range of which your device will read it on, making it waaaay more easier to use! You should read the kickstarter page before making assumptions! (http://nfcring.com/2016/ if you’re so inclined )

  • 1000Acres October 1, 2015, 11:14 am

    Definitely had to have one of these. Went to the Kickstarter site and watched the money tick up like fast seconds on a clock! Can’t wait until December delivery. Thanks for the alert!

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 1, 2015, 11:16 am

      Did you get the Horizon or the Eclipse?

      • 1000Acres October 1, 2015, 6:26 pm

        I got the Horizon, like the one in your pictures. Think it looks pretty cool. Will go along with the Samsung Gear S to further show my geekiness 🙂

  • poqeteer October 1, 2015, 1:51 pm

    Was thinking of just getting the inlay and making my own holder/ring/pendent but the shipping is more expensive then the actual things you are getting. May still just get it to play with…

  • Sebastian February 5, 2016, 2:34 pm

    When you say
    “Another app that you can use will program one of the tags in the ring so that it can be used to unlock your phone without having to swipe, use a PIN number or have the phone rooted.”

    Wich app are you talking about? Im looking for this

  • 1000Acres February 5, 2016, 3:24 pm

    My Horizon model NFC ring arrived in December. It was fun to play with for a few weeks. Then got disenchanted because for the apps to work, the ring had to touch a very specific spot on the back of my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. I spent more time trying to hit the right spot than to just unlock the phone by the usual means. And the sticker to indicate the spot on the back of my sleek phone just didn’t work for me either. A fun idea but I’m over it now.

  • JK May 4, 2016, 7:29 am

    If my ring made my phone ring someone, wouldn’t it ring them whenever i picked the phone up?
    I can understand, maybe, unlocking my phone so I don’t have to hold my thumb on it (cause thats hard /sarcasm). But triggering it every 10 seconds while I’m holding it seems more of a hindrance than much of a feature.

    • Deas May 22, 2016, 7:31 pm

      I highly recommend directing questions about the ring and it’s usecases towards the community forums, https://forum.nfcring.com – this is just a review post, it’s not suited for discussions.

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