Tony is the founder of and project leader for Emotion Mood Sensing Jewelry—the brand name for a new category of smart wearable devices, which combine mood stones, placed in luxurious settings, with sensors, wireless and mobile app technology. The first commercial products being targeted by the brand are mood sensing rings.
A mood sensing ring allows a wearer's emotional state to be conveyed over a communications network, such as the Internet, via an ecosystem of emotive apps on a paired smart phone or other similar device. Each app is responsive to the emotional state of the wearer of the ring.
Tony is the inventor of the underlying technology: US Patent No. 9064390, “System and Method for a Novelty Mood Sensing Sharing Device,” June 23, 2015. He is a serial entrepreneur with many years of experience designing and implementing high tech products.
Tony has his fingers in most aspects of the mood sensing ring project, including the following: defining the overall system level architecture and protocols; project management, including recruiting team members; product management; product marketing; social media marketing; development of the bracelet proof-of-concept prototype; and device, backend and app development.
He recently sat down for a wide ranging Q&A regarding the mood sensing ring.
Q: Why are you so excited about the mood sensing ring project?
A: This is a really, really, really big deal! When I actively began researching this area in early 2013, no one was talking about the Emotive Internet … and for sure they didn’t use that term. Today, this is still largely true. The general public is unaware that the Internet is fast becoming a sensing and feeling thing. However, what is clear is that others in the tech industry are starting to think about this and in a big way. For example, Apple made a sizable acquisition in this space and Alphabet is amassing pieces throughout its Google X division, including in its life sciences group. We, of course, hope to be part of the mix. And, we like our chances in that we are taking a unique approach: a playful one that builds on the whimsical nostalgia of the original mood stone and ring. There are estimates out there that the smart wearable device market will approach $50 billion dollars by the end of this decade. If we can capture just a small fraction of the market, then we will be extremely happy. This is the most passionate that I’ve been about a project in years.
Q: How does a mood sensing ring compare to the original mood ring?
A: That’s a good question. There is one obvious similarity and a number of key differences. Both types of rings integrate a mood stone. But, the differences are stark. First of all, our Emotion Mood Sensing Jewelry project is targeting statement level, luxurious rings and ultra modern ring designs. Our AquairiusTM Mood Sensing Rings are made from high-end metals, including gold and platinum. Real diamonds are included in our highest tier models, to complement the mood stone itself. Secondly, while the mood stones of both the original ring and our mood sensing ring change color based on the emotional state of the wearer, our mood sensing ring takes it much further. The intelligence inside our ring captures the mood and makes the information available to what will ultimately be a large ecosystem of emotive applications. One of my favorite target apps is a music player that dynamically changes the playlist order based on your mood. For example, when the mood sensing ring signals that your mood has dipped, more upbeat, energetic music would be played. We also see a new category of video games that adapt their difficulty level based on reported mood data from the mood sensing ring. Our MoodieTM app is the first game to demonstrate mood based adaptability. This will be incredibly helpful to game developers, whom struggle to achieve the optimal balance between a game that is too easy and one that is too difficult. The apps aspect of a mood sensing ring is a huge distinguishing factor compared to the original mood ring. No one in the 70s could have imagined the type of devices that we are delivering.
Q: You mentioned the 70s, what else do you remember about that decade?
A: Wow! I remember lots about the 70s. The clothes were crazy loud. I remember as kids growing up in inner city Philadelphia, on Easter we would get dressed up in plaid double knit suits with fake suede lapels. But, the polyester leisure shirts were the worst. If you accidentally got an iron anywhere near one, the material would crinkle into a hard little ball of burnt fibers. We looked like clowns in those clothes, but that was the style back in the day [back then]. I also remember bell bottomed pants, clogs, platform shoes, and pick combed to perfection super high afros. And, women wearing hot pants, serenaded by James Brown’s song titled the same name, I remember them as well. Those [hot pants] were short, short, short … It was such a colorful time, but also it was a time of civil uneasiness—to a large extent mirroring a lot of what’s going on now. Speaking of what’s going on, the music was great. My favorite music included the Commodores and “Brick House,” “Fire” by the Ohio Players, and songs like “Mr. Big Stuff,” and “Disco Duck.” [Laughing] It was a really whimsical, fun time—especially the music. Oh, I almost forgot my favorite song, “Firecracker,” by Mass Production … “can’t seem to get enough of you … fire!” That song pretty much captures the 70s for me: brings back a lot of good memories. It was a great time. Though, I’d never wear the clothes again [laughing].
Q: What did you think when you saw the first, original mood ring?
A: By the time mood rings started showing up in our neighborhood in the mid 70s, everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted one. But the quality was pretty low for the rings we could afford. They were essentially bubble gum machine rings that had a gemstone that changed color as you wore them. We knew the color was supposed to say something about your mood, but the rings we had were so badly manufactured that the indicated color was mostly black. Every now and then the stone color would change—almost randomly, it seemed, to blue or green, before once again returning to a poor facsimile of an onyx ring. Still, they were a lot of fun. They were cool, colorful at times and quintessentially the 1970s.
Q: Does the mood sensing ring really work?
A: First of all, the ring we make are leaps and bounds above the original mood ring quality wise. The Thermochromic Liquid Crystal (TLC) formulations [the color changing element in a mood stone] today are much more sensitive and precise. In fact, today’s TLCs can be found in forehead thermometers, used to track the temperatures of babies. We do a lot of testing on each mood sensing ring design to come up with a precise custom TLC specification. When our rings are blue, for example, you can be sure that this is indicative of a happy mood. Next, it turns out that there is a sound scientific foundation underlying how mood stones work. Changes in body temperature, including in the extremities, really do follow changes in one’s mood. We’ve all had the experience of cold hands when we are feeling nervous. Studies, including a recent comprehensive analysis performed by Finnish Researchers, affirm that changes in body temperature track changes in mood. So, yes, the mood sensing ring really does work.
Q: Why start with a mood sensing ring?
A: We actually created a bracelet prototype first: mostly driven by the fact that the size of the then available electronic subsystem hardware—the internal computer, sensor and communications capabilities of all mood sharing jewelry—was too big to fit inside of a ring. The reason we opted to commercially go for a ring first is that there are already many wearable devices in the marketplace, including watches and fitness bands, which are competing for attention on the wrist. In comparison to the overcrowded wrist real estate, the finger is a green-field for wearables. We thought going after the finger first would be a much easier nut to crack. To be clear, though, we plan to eventually have entire line-ups of both luxury and ultra-modern items, including rings, bracelets, pendants, and earrings under the Emotion Mood Sensing Jewelry brand. And, we plan to partner with others on additional variants, including toy oriented rings targeted to kids.
Q: What is the #ConnectYourMood campaign about?
A: It is a key part of our social media effort and is intended to emphasize the sensing aspect of the Emotion Mood Sensing Jewelry brand and the mood sensing ring. We are having a lot of fun with! It allows us to spark and participate in a broader conversation about mood. If basic emotion is like a box of 8 crayons, the #ConnectYourMood effort aims at exploring the full range of human emotion, including more subtle emotions, as might be found in a box of 64 crayons. I personally enjoyed the creativity that went into the "whether you're feeling Al Green Love & Happiness or feeling Katy Perry Dark Horse" video.
Q: Are you having fun with the overall mood sensing ring project?
A: I’m having a lot of fun with our team! We have distinct professional backgrounds, but that’s exactly what’s needed to pull off a product that is as diverse as a mood sensing ring; it is part jewelry, part computer, part communications device, part mood sensor and, on top of that, it pairs with mobile apps. Moreover, we get to introduce, to a whole new generation, a truly modern wearable device that includes a piece of 70s nostalgia. The number of directions we can take the technology are endless. I’m thoroughly enjoying just thinking about the apps possibilities.