It makes perfect sense that the fashion and wearables have formed a camaraderie in recent years. Naturally, if you're going to create something that people need to wear, it needs to adhere to a basic ideal: it needs to either look universal so everyone will wear it, or be so customisable that anyone could wear it.
With the exception of the Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa, not many wearables have achieved that. Wearable Italia, a tech startup founded a couple years ago, is hoping to upend that with the ProdigIO – available on Kickstarter now for €169.
Read this: The best smart jewellery
In terms of smart features, the ProdigIO is actually pretty basic. It'll track steps, calories and sleep. It will also buzz when you get a notification – like a call or text – so that you don't miss it. More importantly, it's also a safety wearable. There's a button you can press if you feel in danger, and it'll send an SOS message with your location to your emergency contacts.
However, Wearable Italia CEO Andrea Tomassini tells Wareable that ProdigIO is jewellery first and a smart device second. That's why Tomassini went after young Italian designer Roberto Ferlito, who has worked with the likes of Lady Gaga, Emily Ratajkowski, Pink, Cara Delevigne and the Princess of Spain.
Each version of the ProdigIO comes in a few different materials. There's gold, silver, bronze and a fourth option called Stones and Swarovski, which dots your ProdigIO with precious stones and diamonds.
The ProdigIO comes in three different styles. Fluid's curvatures are aimed at collecting the light around you and come off more sparkling than the others, making it the best option if you want your jewellery to pop.
Contrarie is more asymmetrical, using two bands to come together for a more unique look. There's also a hidden latch release, which Tomassini says is a hallmark of Italian craftmanship. Finally, Plus is more of a classical design with hard-edged shapes that give it form.
Tomassini says when he approached Ferlito to design the ProdigIO he was hesitant at first because wearable companies traditionally don't go for high-end fashion. They're often built for function over form, which makes it difficult to turn them into fashion products. However, Tomassini wanted to flip the script.
"We want to give to the people a product that they like to [wear] and not a product that is just functional to [wear]," he says. That's why Wearable Italia isn't concerned about the Apples or Fitbits of the world. It's not even concerned with the Louis Vuittons, which got into the wearable game with the Tambour Horizon.
That's because Wearable Italia doesn't think smartwatches are long for this world. It sees smartphones as the primary way we interact with our world, thanks to their larger display, power and camera. A fashion product like the ProdigIO that has some smarts can augment that device, Tomassini believes.
Wearable Italia has actually been around for two years – it showed off its ProdigIO last year. But it's only now made it to crowdfunding, and that's because the company wants to test and see what kind of demand it has for the ProdigIO, Tomassini says.
Specifically, it wants to see how people react to the price. Is there potential here to see the ProdigIO become a mass market device, or are Italian luxury wearables more of a niche thing? That's what the company intends to find out.
Una grande domanda! There is only one thing you should ask yourself about the ProdigIO: are you frustrated by wearables that don't look good enough to wear on a fancy evening out?
If you are, then ProdigIO may be what you're looking for. While sleep tracking with jewellery seems like a bit of a rough idea (does anyone wear jewellery to bed?) there is something to be said about a good looking piece of jewellery that can keep you aware of notifications while also working as a safety wearable.
There are also enough forms and materials here that you should find something that suits your style and taste. Plus, Wearable Italia must be doing something right to get someone like Roberto Ferlito to design its products.
The only main concern with Wearable Italia is how quick it figures out whether it's a mass market company or a niche one. This could affect its ability to scale in the future, especially if it insists on using Italian manufacturing and craftmanship. It's a noble cause, but it could also mean it doesn't make enough product to ship out to its backers.
If you're okay with that, and you'd love a great looking personal safety wearable and fitness tracker that you could use on your night out on the town, then ProdigIO is an interesting idea. We'll certainly be keeping an eye on it.