Try putting your finger up to your ear the next time your smartphone rings. If you’re like most people, it will do absolutely nothing and you’ll miss that call and end up looking ridiculous. However, if you were wearing a device called Sgnl, you’d be able to answer any call just by putting your index finger up to your ear. No opening your phone is needed, and the device works exceedingly well. On the surface, the Sgnl looks just like one of many tech gadgets that no one really needs and nearly everyone forgets within a few years’ time. However, it truly is an innovative piece of technology that has the potential to transform how we all use our phones and smartwatches.
How It Works
Sgnl is a strap that looks like a watch bracelet. You put it on your wrist, and when synced to your phone it will allow you to answer calls just by pushing the button on the side of the strap and putting your index finger up to your ear. It doesn’t matter what setting you’re in, you can take any call without using a headset or even picking up your smartphone.
How is that possible? Because the Sgnl uses your finger as a transmitter, which is how you’re able to hear what the caller is saying. The voice signal comes from your phone to the device by way of Bluetooth. Sgnl then sends vibrations through a component called the Body Conduction Unit, or BCU, and putting your fingertip to your ear transmits that vibration along so you can hear the caller’s voice. The sound is amplified and the vibration creates an echo within your ear, which is why the call quality is so clear. A microphone is embedded into the strap of the Sgnl, which is how your callers will be able to hear you talk to them.
Going this route with a finger being used as a transmitter, background noise is automatically canceled out, allowing clear calls in all situations. Whether you’re on a train, in traffic, at the gym, a busy restaurant, or surrounded by noise, you’ll be able to talk and hear your calls without problems.
For anyone wondering what the big deal is about simply picking up your cell phone to answer a call, think about the many times when that’s not possible. We’ve all missed calls because we were either trying to find where we put our handsets, had to rummage through a bag or purse, or simply had no free hands to take a call. Sgnl provides direct and immediate connection, so you don’t have to touch your handset at all. It’s also a great alternative for those who prefer to use headphones instead of picking up their handsets when a call comes in.
Being able to just tap a button, put your finger to your ear, and take a call would be incredibly convenient for a number of people. Ever been in an elevator and had your phone ring, but you didn’t want to answer because you knew everyone in that elevator would hear your conversation? With Sgnl, scenarios like that aren’t a problem. It’s a handy way to obtain privacy in any situation, and it really couldn’t be easier to use.
A neat feature of Sgnl is that the band can be used to convert your existing smartwatch into a Sgnl device. Switch out the band of your Pebble Time, Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, or similar timepiece and you can use it to both tell time, perform its normal functions, and answer calls using the Sgnl mechanism.
Another advantage of using Sgnl is the alleviation of concerns about how energy from cell phones can disrupt the human body. There has been talk for years — and several studies confirming — that the waves emitted from cell phones and similar electronics are harmful in a number of ways. Because the device uses vibrations and not electronic waves to send voice signals, there’s not any risk of harming yourself physically as a result of using Sgnl.
Sgnal was developed by independent tech company Innomdle Lab, which is based in Los Angeles and headed by Hyunchul Choi. Choi came up with the concept to compete in Samsung’s 2014 C-LAB competition, during which he won first place. After one of his acquaintances mentioned that he liked the look and features of his smartwatch, but didn’t like that when he had conversations with it everyone nearby could hear what was being said, Choi figured that Sgnl could be a way to solve that problem. Smartly, he guessed that as the number of smartwatch users continued to increase, so would their desire to have a solution to privacy issues, and thus work on bringing the Sgnl to market began in full force.
An Epic Funding Campaign
Innomdle Lab went the route of crowdfunding to get the money needed to finish up development of Sgnl, and the company chose Kickstarter as its platform. The original goal for the campaign was $50,000, but as of October 1, 2016, over $1,289,031 had been raised from 7,175 backers. The wild success of the campaign didn’t only bring forth the funds needed to finish developing Sgnl, it also created a ton of buzz and public anticipation for the product.
One of the biggest draws for backing the project is that those who contributed at certain levels were guaranteed a Sgnl set. Since so many people love getting in on the ground floor with the latest tech gadgets, offering up their product in exchange for donations was a savvy move by Innomdle Lab.
Innomdle Lab’s Kickstarter campaign ends on October 8, 2016, but since the funding goal has already been surpassed there’s no doubt that the device will soon be available to buy. Those who want it sooner still have some time to donate and snag a Sgnl that way. The Sgnl app will be released in October 2016, and mass production of the device starts in December. By February 2017, the Sgnl will be delivered to retail outlets and individuals who have already secured a set with their Kickstarter contributions.