The popularity of the Apple Watch has finally given smartwatches their place in the market, making them understandable and even desirable. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone now wants a smartwatch, especially those who prefer mechanical watches or have different aesthetic tastes. Unfortunately, the majority of wrist-worn smart trackers seem to be made with sporty and rugged designs in mind. Given hardware requirements, that’s not exactly surprising, but that shouldn’t stop designers from imagining what’s possible. One such dream is reflected in this minimalist yet distinctive bracelet that throws all smart wearable design conventions out the window, offering a modular piece of jewelry that is smart in more ways than one.
Designers: Akasaki Vanhuyse, Astrid Vanhuyse
If you remove the actual time-keeping function of a smartwatch or a fitness tracker, all you’re really left with are the sensors that actually do the work of keeping tabs on different metrics of your health, directly or indirectly. A display isn’t even necessary since you can always check those figures on a smartphone. In fact, a display might even be detrimental because of the distractions it pushes your way or how it clashes with some fashion styles. Smartwatch designs are primarily constricted by hardware such as displays and big batteries, but what if you could be free of those restrictions?
That’s what the BEAD concept seems to be proposing, offering the same health and wellness monitoring functionalities but in a form that is a bit more universal and, at the same time, more personal. At the heart of the design are the beads, actually tiny cylinders that each hide a single sensor used to track a specific biometric like a pulse oximeter or an accelerometer. Each bead is an independent unit, free from displays or large batteries, performing a single task and performing it to perfection.
The idea is that you can combine any number of these beads on a string or wire to achieve the same collective effect as a fitness tracker. You wear it around your wrist like a bracelet, held together at the ends by magnets in the shape of half-spheres. The wire is white, plain, and unadorned, which puts a bigger visual focus on the beads. Those beads themselves carry a brushed metal finish that helps hide whatever scratches they may incur over time while also giving them unique characters.
You can add or remove as many of these modular beads as you need, only paying for the functionality you actually use. It also makes repairing broken beads easier, since you only need to replace that single piece. Admittedly, the industrial aesthetic might not appeal to everyone’s tastes, but the concept opens the possibility of using different, perhaps more stylish designs that will truly create a fusion of fashion and technology in a simple smart bracelet.