In a technology-driven world where smartphones have quickly become the must-have accessory, one jewellery company is trying to take back its rightful place in the market through a new type of wearable tech. VINAYA, a London-based research and design house that was previously known as Kovert Designs, has launched its brand new line ALTRUIS. VINAYA hope to bridge the gap between ‘connected’ and ‘disconnected’ when it comes to the all-too-common iPhone attachment, nay, addiction.

With the future of tech changing rapidly, VINAYA is trying to spearhead a global initiative, driven by the relationship between humans and technology, in particular the way technology affects human interaction.

Founder and CEO Kate Unsworth was inspired to create the jewellery line after going on a digital cleanse and realising just how much time she was spending attached to her iPhone. While most wearable tech (i.e. the Apple Watch) is intended to keep you connected at all times, VINAYA strives to have its wearers take a step away from their screen and only remain connected to the things that really matter.

The Bluetooth enabled jewellery, which currently includes rings, bracelets and necklaces, pairs with the ALTRUIS iOS app (currently only available on iPhones) and alerts its users when an important message comes through to their paired device by way of discrete vibrations. All pieces feature the ALTRUIS stone, which is made of zirconia ceramic and is embedded with the Bluetooth chip. The jewellery is able to receive notifications from texts, calls, emails, calendars and WhatsApp.

With programming capabilities, users are able to create their own contact groups and set predetermined keywords that automatically signal to the device that it is an important message. These filters are indicated by different vibration patterns.ALTRUIS users remain connected to their digital life with no iPhone in sight, allowing them to detach from the less necessary aspects of their phones.

Unsworth aims to hire the best in tech, science and design fields in an effort to grow this innovation, splitting VINAYA into two sections – the Lab and the Studio – both housed in a three-story building in Shoreditch.

The Lab is a research hub striving to use the combined knowledge of specialists in the fields such as neuroscience, philosophy, anthropology and psychology to better understand how modern humanity is affected by technology. It is a place of research, experimentation and cultivation, set to announce a “brain board” of top research individuals in Q1 of 2016. The research is meant to not only drive the company forward, but also lead to a better understanding of humankind as a whole, acting as an intersection for the mind, brain and body. VINAYA describes their primary focus as delving into neuroscience habits called “life design”, which is how environmental cues and rewards paired with modern digital habits affect day-to-day life. Topics of exploration so far have included eye contact, human interaction versus digital interaction and researching how music affects the cognitive process.

Fuelled by the Lab, the Studio is a centre for design and innovation. It is responsible for creating the product-based solutions that the Lab conceptualises. The physical products reflect the discoveries made in efforts to help customers find more balance in their lives, promoting the idea of wellbeing. Products are inspired by the three main concepts of innovation, sustainability and minimalism. VINAYA’s Studio aims to realistically minimise the overuse of and reliance on technology, trying to encourage the fostering of personal connections.

As of 1 November, ALTRIUS is available for purchase online. In upcoming months, pieces will be sold in stores throughout London, New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Words by Kate Radin

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