Once in a while a piece of technology comes along that you feel like you already know, not because it has already been done, but because it is so firmly rooted in science fiction and popular culture that it seems like it already exists.
The Rufus Cuff is the latest of these technologies. According to its makers, it is the first “wrist communicator”, a wristband that can both tether to a smartphone or work independently.
Although a fairly unique product, the Rufus Cuff feels straight out of science fiction, and is particularly reminiscent of Turanga Leela’s “this thing I wear on my wrist” from the cartoon series Futurama and the Pip-Boy 3000 from the Fallout video game series.
Older readers may also see a similarity between the Rufus Cuff and cartoon police detective Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio.
The Rufus Cuff has many similarities to the tethered smart watches that are currently flooding the tech market. It has a built-in mic, speaker and camera, enabling the wearer to make voice and video calls while the device is tethered to their smartphone. An untethered version can even make voice and video calls over Wi-Fi.
However, the Rufus Cuff’s 3 inch screen offers some serious advantages over a conventional smart watch. The cuff runs on Android, so offers a complete web browser along with the ability to watch videos and download apps from Google Play.
It can also be used to send email and other messages: unlike smaller wearables, the screen size allows for a decent typing experience, and when tethered with Siri or Google Now-capable phones Rufus can even be used to dictate messages.
With both portrait and landscape display modes, the cuff has been designed to be worn on either the inside or outside of the wrist, which should make for a comfortable using experience – an obviously essential factor in a device intended to be worn most of the time.
The developers have clearly taken this into account, and are giving purchasers of the device on their Indiegogo page a wide choice of colours and finishes, starting at $229 (€166 / £138).
The cuff also has the obligatory fitness functions that appear to have become staple features for most wearables. It features GPS, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, allowing it to make full use of the many fitness apps in the Play store.
Other features include the ability to hook up to Bluetooth enabled products such as locks and lights, potentially making it the coolest way to get home and turn the lights on.
Although less than a week into its Indiegogo campaign, the Rufus Cuff is selling well, with more than 97 funders forking out to lay their hands on one.
This cuff has the potential to be a smart watch killer. Having discussed wearables with many different people, from developers and other journalists to tech-savvy consumers and more conservative gadget-skeptics, the number one thing said about smart watches is that they feel too small to be worthwhile.
Instead, the majority of people describe a larger touchscreen that they can wear on their wrist. A product, in fact, that is almost identical to the Rufus Cuff.
Images courtesy of Rufus Labs.