Tons of startups and big companies alike are making smart jewelry as part of the trend toward wearable technology. But Trellie hopes to one-up them with a modular smart jewelry platform, which fashion brands can use to make a wide array of connected jewelry.
Trellie has made a small technology platform that includes a small Bluetooth radio inside a tiny disc. Jewelry designers can take it and put it underneath a jewelry stone. It can light up the jewelry when prompted, and it can connect wirelessly to an app on your smartphone, said Claude Aldridge, chief executive of Trellie, in an interview with VentureBeat. It’s small enough that you could put it inside a ring or a necklace, without making the jewelry much larger than it already is, he said.
“We can power different brands with different functionality,” Aldridge said.
Rather than come up with a single piece of jewelry, Aldridge believes it’s smarter to enable a whole family or generation of smart jewelry. After all, there is no shortage of companies that are doing one-off wearable devices, based on our own observations at the recent 2015 International CES. Aldridge said the company has been granted a patent on its smart jewelry platform. By adopting Trellie’s solution, jewelry makers can focus on designing jewelry, rather than wrestling with technology.
The jewelry wearer can also take the module out of a piece of jewelry and put it in another. That means the person doesn’t have to wear the same piece of jewelry every day to get the benefit of having a connected device.
“We are putting the technology into things women are wearing anyway, rather than give them a new rubber bracelet that they might wear for a couple of weeks,” Aldridge said.
Kansas City and New York-based Trellie is also announcing it has signed a design and distribution deal with one of the largest jewelry manufacturers in the world. Trellie isn’t identifying the jewelry manufacturer yet, but Aldridge said that the client serves jewelry brands and retailers including Henri Bendel, Vince Camuto, Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, HSN, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, and Macy’s.
Trellie can let you know via the jewelry if you have calls, texts, and calendar notifications. Additional notifications and activity could come later.
“We can add notifications and activity tracking later,” Aldridge said.
Trellie is backed by Ron LeMay (a former executive at Sprint and Japan Telecom and current chairman of GoGo Wireless). The company’s strategy and business development is led by Women in Wireless veteran Heidi Lehmann. Trellie launched its first device, a wireless call notifier for women’s handbags, in January 2013.
“Trellie literally helped kick-start the wearable technology industry. They’ve focused on developing the smallest, most flexible technology with brands in mind, and with their strategic partnership, they empower jewelry and fashion brands to create their own lines, influence their own communities and be creative about it,” said LeMay, Trellie’s lead investor, in a statement. “Trellie owns the patent on this technology which puts them in a very unique position to continue shaping and owning the wearable technology marketplace while partnering, not competing, with jewelry designers and fashion brands who already know what’s best for their customers.”
Trellie plans to debut its own line of smart jewelry, powered by designer jewelry and fashion brands, this spring.