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Brand Case Studies: How Vinaya made wearable tech emotional

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Vinaya is one-part design studio and one-part research lab, a brand cleverly positioned at the juncture between human experience and technology, interested in finding new ways to unite the two in a less absent-minded future.

Kate Unsworth, Vinaya’s CEO, is probably one of the only CEOs you won’t see digitally distracted. She founded Vinaya in 2013 in a bid to help people find their digital balance and currently employs over 40 people across bases in London, San Francisco and New York. In November 2015, the company raised £2 million seed investment to develop a series of vibrating rings, necklaces and bracelets, all designed to limit smartphone usage.

The company’s first product line, Altrius, came soon after. It’s a range of very desirable looking platinum-plated, ceramic jewellery, which gently vibrates according to notifications the user pre-filters on the brand’s user-intuitive app.

Through the app, users set different profiles which screen what content makes their jewellery vibrate. The software scans emails, phone calls, text messages and WhatsApp to ensure users only get alerted to the things they want. They can also add specific people to an approved list so that when they try and get in contact, users will be aware. Likewise, warning words can be set and used within an email subject or a message to ensure a vibration will automatically be fed through to the jewellery.

It’s simple. If your jewellery is vibrating, you need to look at your phone. If not you’re free to go about your day and catch up later. It removes the need for surreptitious screen glances at dinners, and frantic scans in between meetings and events.

Last month, Vinaya announced plans to crowdfund a further $100,000 so that it can start shipping its new Zenta wristband early next year. Incredibly, within 48 hours the brand had succeeded in securing the sum from 300 different backers.

Zenta uses the most advanced patented sensing technology and algorithms to help users measure heart rates, track sleep and mark emotional stress as well as undertake built in breathing exercises. Meanwhile the digital element syncs with data from calendars, locations, and other smartphone-related traffic.

Zenta also tracks emotions, to help users better interpret their thoughts and feelings into patterns of behaviour, and incredibly, visuals provide an emotion sharing platform that’s the first of it’s kind. Grounded in neuroscience and psychology, Unsworth said of the product: “Zenta collects and synthesizes complex information about your life to build a holistic picture of your wellbeing over time–far beyond just counting your steps.” The campaign has just closed on Indiegogo, so backers look set to receive their products shortly.

By being the first to integrate digital and emotional futures, Vinaya has created a whole new pathway for approaching wearable technologies to aspire towards. Their Detox Dashboard function even tells you how many emails have you’ve sent, who is taking up the most of your time and (worryingly), how much time you’ve spent on social media. With all this information available within the click of an app, a mindful digital presence is upon us. Namaste to that.

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