With this smart ring you can zoom and control PowerPoint remotely

In the age of remote working, a smart productivity ring like the Genki Wave seems like a smart idea.

Rather than letting you search for the correct hot keys to unmute on Zoom or lower the volume on your laptop, the Genki Wave for Work ($ 139, launch price $ 89) lets you use the same hotkeys and get more direct. your index finger with your finger. And since you don't work in a real office, no one is going to judge you for wearing an unashamedly boring accessory.

But the more I used the Genki Wave itself, the more disappointed I got with all the things I wasn't allowed to do. While the idea of ​​shortcuts to portable computers has some promise, Genki's approach doesn't live up to its potential yet.

The Genki Wave is not technically a fresh product. It debuted last year as a portable MIDI-O controller for musicians, the kind you'd use to quickly trigger a drum fill or turn the vol down. But during the pandemic, Genki Instruments saw an opportunity to reach a wider audience by using the Wave to help people deal with an attack of remote Zoom calls and PowerPoint presentations.

To that end, the ring is decidedly utilitarian, with 1.5 containing the electronics and battery for 8 hours and the other half a Velcro loop. You wear the ring on your index finger and the thick half should protrude to the side, so that you can easily press the 3 rubber buttons with your thumb. The Wave uses BT to connect to your laptop and has a companion app to control what the buttons do.

Despite its size, I found the Wave quite comfortable. I wore it loose enough to put on or take off without loosening the Velcro, and at one point I forgot I was still wearing it after getting up from my laptop.

Right out of the box, the ring is most useful for video calling in apps like Zoom or Google Meet. You can press the top button to raise your hand, press the middle button to mute (or hold for PTT), and press the bottom button to switch cameras.

The app also has a music mode to play, pause and scroll through songs, and if you turn your hand while holding the middle button, it also controls your computer's volume slider. Another presentation mode lets you browse slides in Google Slides or PowerPoint.

All of these features worked quite well in my experience, and I see some value in using remotes instead of looking for the right set of keys on your screen or keyboard. Still, a smart ring that costs $ 143 should do a lot more than the Genki Wave.

More interesting than all of Genki's preset modes, for example, is the 'Custom' setting, where you can assign the Ring buttons to hotkeys. I love this idea and quickly mapped the buttons to Microsoft Edge's shortcuts to cycle through tabs, close tabs, and highlight them on the URL bar.

I really wish the Wave's flip gesture could do more than just control the volume.

Still, I also got frustrated with the limitations of this mode. As of now, the Wave only shortcuts that use Command or Ctrl keys. You can't use keyboard shortcuts that use other modifiers, such as Shift, Alt, or the Windows key, which means the Wave can't help you switch between apps (which require Alt + Tab) or workspaces (Shift+Alt+Tab). You also can't press the buttons to do anything else like launch apps.

Also, I really wish the Wave's flip gesture could do more than just control the volume. If I could scroll through articles or ebooks with the bezel instead of my trackpad or mouse, that would be worth $ 143 alone.

A few other minor doubts: In Windows, the Wave app doesn't minimize to the system tray when you close it, so the only way to keep it open is to give it a permanent space on the task-bar. It would also be nice if the app provided some sort of visual confirmation on your screen when you switched between operating modes, rather than just via the Q-LED lights on the bezel itself.

Genki does say that it plans to add more software options over time and that it will fix the taskbar issue in the next software update, but at this point in time, the productivity features of this gadget seem a bit like a proof of concept. Hopefully the company can fix things before we go back to work in person and have to explain to colleagues why a $ 143 productivity ring was a worthwhile investment.

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