Gemio is giving friendship bracelets an IoT makeover


This piece of smart jewelry combines self-expression with the ability to connect with friends in-person.


Friendship bracelets first emerged on the wearable scene in the 1970s, and have remained pretty much the same ever since. In order to evolve with the times, one Seattle startup has unveiled more intelligent and interchangeable jewelry for today’s tech-hungry and fashion-savvy world.

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Whereas most wearable devices have a uniform appearance, Gemio boasts modular Gemsets that can be snapped on and off with ease. These Gemsets can be programmed with various light and special effects from a palette of colors, so you can create an entirely new look each and every day. You can even swap out designs in a matter of seconds via its accompanying mobile app.

Crafted with a social component in mind, Gemio is the first wearable to focus on connecting people rather than the gadgets themselves. The bracelet employs much of the technology commonly found in existing trackers and smartwatches, such as Bluetooth, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and 20 LEDs, but applies them in a different manner.

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Using BLE connectivity and a mesh network, wearers are able to sync their Gemios through gestures like high-fives and handshakes. Once paired, the bands alert its user to their friends’ proximity through the detachable Gemsets. The unit not only recognizes who you’re with and responds to what you are doing, it also illuminates when your friends are nearby, playing a signature “light tone.” (Think of it as a personalized ringtone, but in lights.)

What’s more, the responsive bracelet can detect various gestures and allows users to assign light effects to them. For example, wave hello and Gemio plays a light show, or twist your wrist to make it sparkle.

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The startup was founded in 2014, with some of its earliest backers including Tricia Black, the first vice president of sales at Facebook. Gemio joins the likes of JewelBots and several others in developing wearable products that appeal to girls with hopes of enticing more to pursue STEM-related disciplines.

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