Rufus CEO: 'We won't need smartphones in 10 years'

The Rufus Cuff's large form factor will be the all the rage in time
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The Rufus Cuff isn't your typical wearable and the team behind it knows that. It started out consumer focused but as time went on, enterprise became part of the picture and has taken the lead in the driver's seat. That doesn't mean everyone else has been forgotten though.

Rufus Labs CEO Gabe Grifoni sees a need in both spaces and fully plans on delivering to both sides of the user base coin.

While some may scoff at the concept of strapping a phone-sized wearable on the arm, many other people are placing more pre-orders than you'd expect. Grifoni explains that it will simply take time for the skeptical to get on board with larger wearables and in the future, such designs will be the norm with smartphones a distant memory.

Right now, he says it's all about getting people used to having something on the wrist because, "Consumers need a lot more time to be educated on wearables." That's where Rufus Cuff comes into play. So what can you even do with the Cuff? Grifoni explains the possibilities for enterprise and every day users.

For the workers

In the consumer space, there's still a need for a killer app to really make wearables that go-to device you want to use, instead of resorting to your phone. But enterprise, is much more ready for a wearable like the Rufus Cuff to make work easier.

Grifoni says Rufus has only recently evolved from consumer-only to enterprise over the last year and a half because there were so many inquiries for workspace usage. But he says splitting the focus isn't a huge deal, and is in fact similar to what other hardware and software companies do.

"It's the same way as when you're buying a computer from HP - there's an enterprise version with certain features and then there's a consumer version that works as you would expect.

"So we have a similar thing where the hardware is similar on both sides where maybe there's no ring scanner on the consumer side but the software itself is for consumers where it's re-skinned with Android to work really well in landscape mode.

"Maybe in enterprise you don't have downloadable apps. In enterprise you don't want someone adding Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat to their devices - it's going to reduce efficiency with workers because they're going to be checking social media."

Rufus CEO: 'We won't need smartphones in 10 years'

Using two hands to move heavy boxes around while scanning them is also a hassle warehouses and stock rooms have come across. Grifoni says using a wearable would free up hands making the workday safer with time spent more efficiently. Rufus Cuff also adds in a little more to further help employees utilize their time wiser.

"With our software and hardware, there's elements we've built in with ways to improve efficiency. There's motion sensors and different abilities to learn what workers are doing and what patterns could be corrected to make them better. Other devices are dumb. They don't learn anything."

The algorithms with Cuff's lightweight design (it's surprisingly not heavy despite the size) and long lasting battery to endure a full work shift, plus it's low price - Grifoni says a normal scanner is $4000 while the wearable and accessories would cost under $1000 - it sounds like the Cuff is poised to dominate enterprise. Where does that leave regular consumers then?

For every day use

There's no doubt Rufus Cuff is for the early adopters. But Grifoni also says younger people are also interested.

The Cuff lacks LTE, which is something most smartwatches are sorely missing, but Grifoni says wide spread Wi-Fi is an effective, and better solution.

"We've sold 2,500 units to consumers. Those younger, early adopters are the ones saying, 'Well why am I spending over a $100 on Verizon or AT&T a month when my home, my coffee shop, the streets, my school has Wi-Fi and I can get free access to all my social media.'

"Most communication is not done verbally on the phone. It's video calls, it's text, it's email. Calls are becoming the least used medium on a phone. So we found a lot of our users and consumers would use it (Rufus Cuff) as a phone replacement, especially as Wi-Fi becomes more ubiquitous everywhere. You don't need LTE - it's expensive and eats up space."

Rufus CEO: 'We won't need smartphones in 10 years'

Readily available Wi-Fi and the decrease of phone call use is just the beginning though. For Grifoni, wearables are the logical next step after smartphones and the Cuff is future of wearables. But getting there will require patience.

"Why in 10 years do we need a smartphone? Or wallet, keys when everything can be automated and moved out of there."

"We see consumers who want to transition away from a smartphone eventually. I think right now it's not the time. No one's going to ditch their beautiful iPhone - I wouldn't ditch my iPhone for this yet.

"But I would start to learn to use it with my phone so as stuff gets pushed to my arm and I answer it from there, I rely on the device in my pocket less and less and eventually, psychologically people get to the point where they're like, 'Oh I don't really use this much…oh it's gone? I don't even remember when I had to use it all the time.'"

When that time comes, the Rufus Cuff's large form factor will apparently make it the perfect device to use. Smartwatch displays now are already too small making texting, reading messages and doing useful tasks difficult. Grifoni likens it to the arrival of the first iPhone where it went from tiny, to medium then gigantic sizes as it evolved.

In that way, Grifoni's logic makes a lot of sense. But while we're not exactly ready to let go of our phones, neither are we ready to wear massive wearables. That's why enterprise makes sense for Rufus - there's a problem that the Cuff can help fix. Still, given how frustrating current smartwatch screen sizes are, it will really only be a matter of time before Rufus Cuff and others like it are everywhere.

How we test


Lily is a writer and editor specializing in tech, video games, marketing, education, travel writing, and creative fiction. 

She has over 10 years of experience covering the technology beat.

Lily has a passion for VR and AR technologies and was associate wearables editor at TechRadar US, before joining Wareable as US editor in 2016.

Lily will graduate in 2023 with an MFA in Creative Writing.

In her spare time, Lily can be found knee-deep in zine collaborations, novel writing, playing Dungeons & Dragons or hiking and foraging for mushrooms.

Related stories