Fluid, Plus and Contrarié are a trio of intelligent bracelets by the Italian fashion tech startup Wearable Italia. Founded in February 2016 by IT engineer and CEO Andrea Tomassini, the limited edition ProdigIO collection aims to blends hidden technology with Italian luxury.
"We chose to call this line ProdigIO because of its double meaning: on the one hand the adjective highlights the line's beautiful and extraordinary dimension; on the other hand the digital side is evoked by the number 10, discreetly contained in the collection's name, referring to the binary numerical system typical of computer language," said Tomassini.
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This is not Wearable Italia's first project: "The first thing I built was a robot. I wanted to understand IoT and the possibilities that technology can offer." A year later the entrepreneur moved on to creating smart bracelets and now runs a five person team which is responsible for building everything from the ground up. "Everyone knows, and understands, their role at Wearable Italia and this is important," said Tomassini. "We all have the same goal, to build a product that respects Italy and technology".
Made by Italian artisans
The quintet at Wearable Italia is made up of various talented individuals, including celebrated designer Roberto Ferlito. He is the mastermind behind the made-in-Italy statement pieces that embody his eccentric future-gazing way of thinking. When it comes to craftsmanship, Wearable Italia turned to the artisans of Forli, in northern Italy, who worked for three days to complete each piece by hand, hence the rather high-end price range of €350-€500.
The three styles are all available in gold, silver or black ruthenium-plated finishes and according to Tomassini, were each designed with a specific target audience in mind. The Plus is the perfect accessory for the stylish young crowd in their twenties. Simple, yet striking, the bracelet can easily take the wearer from day to evening.
The Contrarié is formed of two bands and encircles the wearer's wrist in a beautiful manner. Designed for women in their thirties, the bracelet features a hidden latch release.
The most expensive of the three is the Fluid. The statement wrist candy brags a strong and distinctive design. "Although we have created it for women over 35 years of age," said Tomassini, "it is the right bracelet for those who are not afraid to stand out in a crowd."
A silent ally for women
The ProdigIO bracelets are compatible with iOS, Android and Windows, connecting via Bluetooth. Features include step tracking, workout tracking and estimated calories. Also in the mix is an alarm and a filter for alerts for incoming messages like calls, SMS, email and social networks.
Powered by an ion connected battery, Wearable Italia confirmed that its ProdigIO bracelets can last up to 10-15 days before they need to be recharged. That's impressive, since most similar pieces of smart jewellery, like Ringly's Aries, only last about 2-3 days.
Besides the 'normal' tech, the products have been designed with a specific purpose that goes beyond activity tracking. Like Wisewear jewellery, the bracelets have also been created with women's safety in mind. Each piece comes with a button, which the wearer only has to push once to send an emergency SMS with their geolocation to all the contacts loaded in the app. "Our bracelets are a woman's silent ally," Tomassini told me.
One of their USPs is that the technology is invisible on the exterior, but I did notice that this was not the case for the inside of the bracelet, where it is quite visible. On the somewhat unfinished look, Tomassini explained, "We are still in our testing phase, and we have not decided on whether we should enclose the technology in the bracelet or leave it exposed. The younger buyers seemed intrigued with the exposed technology. They liked wearing it and seeing the blue light, from the inside of the bracelet, shine on their hand. In the evening it looks amazing, but we are still deciding."
Connected bags, belts and dresses
Like any other fashion tech startup, Wearable Italia faced its own challenges when creating the ProdigIO collection. Tomassini revealed that it hasn't been easy producing a tech product in Italy. "We are famous for our fashion, not our technology," he admitted. "Our biggest challenge was trying to get the artisans to understand what we were trying to do. They were very resistant to change. I had to explain that the technology will not take away from the craftsmanship and quality of the handmade bracelet."
So what's next? "Well, we want to expand into bags, belts and dresses. We also want to launch a more affordable line of fashion tech accessories," said Wearable Italia's CEO. "As our product evolves, we would like to look at RFID technology, the problem is we need to find a solution on how we can get RFID technology to go through metal. We are also keen to include a payment option".
For now the focus is on the ProdigIO collection which is due to launch in December 2017 – you can sign up now at the Wearable Italia site to get a 30% discount. "We are trying to get everything perfect." confessed Tomassini. "Once done, we will be launching only 1,000 pieces. The first 300 will come in a limited edition black wooden box". As connected tech accessories are treated more like fashion items, it will be intriguing to see what kind of success Wearable Italia can carve out.
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