The ring shown on someone's index finger

The ErgO Ring Makes Computer Interactions Comfortable

[Sophia Dai] brings us a project you will definitely like if you’re tired of traditional peripherals like a typical keyboard and mouse combo. This is ErgO, a smart ring you can build out of a few commonly available breakouts, and it keeps a large number of features within a finger’s reach. The project has got an IMU, a Pimoroni trackball, and a good few buttons to perform actions or switch modes, and it’s powered by a tiny Bluetooth-enabled devboard so it can seamlessly perform HID device duty.

While the hardware itself appears to be in a relatively early state, there’s no shortage of features, and the whole experience looks quite polished. Want to lay back in your chair yet keep scrolling the web, clicking through links as you go? This ring lets you do that, no need to hold your mouse anymore, and you can even use it while exercising. Want to do some quick text editing on the fly? That’s also available; the ErgO is designed to be used for day to day tasks, and the UX is thought out well. Want to use it with more than just your computer? There is a device switching feature. The build instructions are quite respectable, too – you can absolutely build one like this yourself, just get a few breakouts, a small battery, some 3D printed parts, and find an evening to solder them all together. All code is on GitHub, just like you would expect from a hack well done.

Looking for a different sort of ring? We’ve recently featured a hackable cheap smart ring usable for fitness tracking – this one is a product that’s still being reverse-engineered, but it’s alright if you’re okay with only having an accelerometer and a few optical sensors.

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A closeup of the ring, inner electronics including a lit green LED seen through the inner transparent epoxy, next to the official app used to light up the LED for a demo.

New Part Day: A Hackable Smart Ring

We’ve seen prolific firmware hacker [Aaron Christophel] tackle smart devices of all sorts, and he never fails to deliver. This time, he’s exploring a device that seems like it could have come from the pages of a Cyberpunk RPG manual — a shiny chrome Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) smart ring that’s packed with sensors, is reasonably hacker friendly, and is currently selling for as little as $20.

The ring’s structure is simple — the outside is polished anodized metal, with the electronics and battery carefully laid out along the inside surface, complete with a magnetic charging port. It has a BLE-enabled MCU, a heartrate sensor, and an accelerometer. It’s not much, but you can do a lot with it, from the usual exercise and sleep tracking, to a tap-sensitive interface for anything you want to control from the palm of your hand. In the video’s comments, someone noted how a custom firmware for the ring could be used to detect seizures; a perfect example of how hacking such gadgets can bring someone a brighter future.

The ring manufacturer’s website provides firmware update images, and it turns out, you can upload your own firmware onto it over-the-air through BLE. There’s no signing, no encryption — this is a dream device for your purposes. Even better, the MCU is somewhat well-known. There’s an SDK, for a start, and a datasheet which describes all you would want to know, save for perhaps the tastiest features. It’s got 200 K of RAM, 512 K of flash, BLE library already in ROM, this ring gives you a lot to wield for how little space it all takes up. You can even get access to the chip’s Serial Wire Debug (SWD) pads, though you’ve got to scrape away some epoxy first.

As we’ve seen in the past, once [Aaron] starts hacking on these sort of devices, their popularity tends to skyrocket. We’d recommend ordering a couple now before sellers get wise and start raising prices. While we’ve seen hackers build their own smart rings before, it’s tricky business, and the end results usually have very limited capability. The potential for creating our own firmware for such an affordable and capable device is very exciting — watch this space!

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Membership Ring Of The Electronic Illuminati

When the cabal of electronic design gurus that pull the invisible strings of the hardware world get together, we imagine they have to show this ring to prove their identity. This is the work of [Zach Fredin], and you’re going to be shocked by the construction and execution of what he calls Cyborg Ring.

The most obvious feature of the Cyborg Ring is the collection of addressable LEDs that occupy the area where gems would be found on a ring. What might not be so obvious is that this is constructed completely of electronic components, and doesn’t use any traditional mechanical parts like standoffs. Quite literally, the surface mount devices are structural in this ring.

They are also electrical. Here you can see a detail of how [Zach] pulled this off. We are looking at the underside of the ring, the part that goes below your knuckle. One of the two PCBs that are sized to fit your finger has been placed in a Stick Vise while the QFN processor is soldered on end, and the pairs of SMD resistors are put in place.

The precise measurements of each part make it possible to choose components that will perfectly span the gap between the two boards. In the background of the image you can see SMD resistors on their long ends — a technique he used to allow the LEDs themselves to span between one resistor on each of the two PDBs to complete the circuit. Incredible, right?

But it gets better. [Zach] ended up with a working prototype, but has continued to forge ahead with new design iterations. These updates are a delight to read! Make sure you follow his project and check in regularly; if you’ve already looked at this now’s the time to go back and see the new work. The gold pads for the minuscule coin cells which power the ring are being reselected as the batteries didn’t fit well on the original. Some layout problems are being tweaked. And the new spin of boards should be back from fab in a week or so.

Don’t miss the demo video found below. We really like seeing projects that build within the wearble ring form factor. It’s an impressive constraint which [Zach] seems to have mastered. Another favorite of ours is [Kevin’s] Arduboy ring.

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