LAS VEGAS -- There have been plenty of recent attempts at meshing wearable tech and jewelry -- the Intel MICA band, Fitbit's Tory Burch accessories, and the Misfit Shine , which has its own pendants and bracelets, are a few that come to mind. A key limitation, however, has been battery life: these gadgets, sooner or later, need a charge or a new battery.
Misfit Swarovski Shine, a line of crystal-bejeweled fitness trackers announced at CES in Las Vegas, takes everything up another level. Thanks to a partnership with Swarovski, these trackers cross the line into true jewelry. Two versions will offer either a clear or violet crystal. It's the violet one you want, because that one's solar-powered -- it shouldn't ever need to be charged at all.
Using what Misfit calls a patented "energy harvesting crystal" technology that maximizes charging across the Shine's small surface area, the violet-blue version of Swarovski Shine should keep itself charged up whenever it's exposed to light.
That solar-powered Shine uses a blue crystal because, according to Misfit, it's the best color for collecting light energy effectively. The cut of the crystal itself helps collect light into the solar panels underneath, enabling efficient charging.
That solar-powered version won't be in stores until June this year; meanwhile, the clear crystal version of Swarovski Shine will be available in March. The non-violet Swarovski Shine won't do any fancy solar energy-harvesting, but it'll have a similar design and accessories. Swarovski Shine will come in three starting sets with two accessories in each, with prices ranging from $170 to $250 (equivalent to £110-165, or AU$210-310). A pendant or bracelet comes with each, plus a water-friendly sport band.
There will be a total of nine Swarovski accessories -- including the Vio Pendant, Piofiori Band and the pictured Slake Bracelet, which will cost anywhere from $70 to $150 and work with both the Swarovski Shine and original Misfit Shine.
Under the hood, these new blinged-out Shines work the same way as the old ones: step tracking, automatic sleep tracking and general fitness activity via accelerometer. They'll even be waterproof to 50 meters, and tell time via a glowing ring of LEDs like the Shine does, with a simple double-tap on the top of the crystal. Instead of a curved metal surface, there's a large faceted crystal embedded into the Shine hardware itself.
CNET's Vanessa Hand Orellana tried on the jewelry and really liked the designs; they looked convincing to me, but I'm not the jewelry expert. It's also clever that many of the pendants have different designs on each side, and function as good-looking jewelry even when no Misfit tracker is inserted.
The price isn't bad either, considering that the original Misfit Shine cost about $150 a year ago. Pricing for the solar-powered violet version, however, hasn't been revealed.
The Swarovski Shine collection is available for pre-order on Misfit's website, and will be available in the spring, at Swarovski stores in the US, Hong Kong and China at first, and also on Swarovski.com.
Sure, the Swarovski Shines look pretty, but the way the technology becomes invisible and effectively maintenance-free is the most impressive part. Finally, we may be ready for wearables that work as everyday, hassle-free objects.