Smart ring to remote control Zoom calls

Within the age of remote work, a sensible ring for productiveness such because the Genki Wave looks as if a intelligent concept.

As a substitute of constructing you seek for the best keyboard shortcuts to unmute your self on Zoom or flip your laptop computer’s quantity down, the Genki Wave for Work ($149, with a launch worth of $99) helps you to put on those self same shortcut buttons and extra proper in your index finger. And because you’re not working in an precise workplace, nobody’s going to decide you for sporting an unashamedly dorky accent.

[Photo: courtesy of Genki]

However the extra I used the Genki Wave myself, the extra upset I grew to become by all of the issues it wouldn’t let me do. Whereas the thought of wearable pc shortcut buttons has some promise, Genki’s strategy doesn’t reside up to its potential but.

Not your typical ring

The Genki Wave is technically not a brand new product. It debuted final yr as a wearable MIDI controller for musicians, the type you’d use to shortly set off a drum fill or dial down the quantity. However through the pandemic, Genki Devices noticed an opportunity to pivot to a broader viewers by utilizing the Wave to assist folks cope with an onslaught of Zoom calls and remote PowerPoint displays.

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To that finish, the ring is decidedly utilitarian, with one half containing its eight-hour battery and electronics, and the opposite half comprised of a Velcro loop. You put on the ring in your index finger, and the chunkier half is meant to stick out to the facet, letting you simply press its three rubberized buttons together with your thumb. The Wave makes use of Bluetooth to join together with your pc, and it has a companion app to control what its buttons do.

Regardless of its bulk, I discovered the Wave to be pretty snug. I wore it loosely sufficient to pull on or off with out undoing the Velcro strap, and at one level I forgot that I used to be nonetheless sporting it after getting up from my pc.

[Photo: courtesy of Genki]

Out of the field, the ring is most useful for video calls in apps similar to Zoom or Google Meet. You may press the highest button to increase your hand, press the center button for mute (or maintain it down for push-to-talk), and press the underside button to toggle your digicam.

The app additionally has a music mode for enjoying, pausing, and skipping by way of songs, and in case you twist your hand whereas holding down the center button, it’ll control your pc’s quantity slider as properly. One other mode for displays helps you to advance by way of slides in PowerPoint or Google Slides.

Ready for extra

All these capabilities labored fairly properly in my expertise, and I can see some worth in utilizing remote controls as a substitute of on the lookout for the best set of buttons in your display or keyboard. Nonetheless, a sensible ring that prices $150 ought to do much more than the Genki Wave does.

Extra intriguing than any of Genki’s preset modes, as an illustration, is its “Customized” setting, the place you may map the Ring’s buttons to keyboard shortcuts. I like this concept and shortly mapped the buttons to Microsoft Edge’s shortcuts for biking by way of tabs, closing tabs, and highlighting on the URL bar.

I actually wished the Wave’s hand-twist gesture might do extra than simply control quantity.

But I additionally grew to become pissed off by this mode’s limitations. As of now, the Wave solely helps shortcuts that use Ctrl (in Home windows) or Cmd (in macOS). You may’t use shortcuts that contain different modifiers similar to Shift, Alt, or the Home windows key, which implies the Wave can’t aid you swap between apps (which requires Alt-Tab) or workspaces (Shift-Alt-Tab). You can also’t press the buttons to do the rest, similar to launch apps.

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I additionally actually wished the Wave’s hand-twist gesture might do extra than simply control quantity. If I might scroll by way of articles or e-books with the ring as a substitute of my trackpad or mouse, that alone could be value $150.

A few different minor nitpicks: In Home windows, the Wave app doesn’t reduce to the system tray while you shut it, so the one manner to maintain it open is to give it a everlasting house within the taskbar. It’d even be good if the app offered some sort of visible affirmation in your display while you switched between control modes, fairly than simply by way of the LED lights on the ring itself.

Genki does say that it plans to add extra software program options over time—and that it’ll repair the taskbar concern in its subsequent software program replace—however at current this gadget’s productiveness options appear a bit like a proof of idea. Hopefully the corporate can flesh issues out earlier than we begin going again to work in particular person and have to clarify to colleagues why a $150 productiveness ring was a worthwhile funding.