Ring Theory is the future of public transportation

(Ring Theory)

(Ring Theory)

By converting card-scanning technology into a ring on your finger, this new startup could be a world-changer.

Ring Theory started as a small, personal project of Edward Tiong and Olivia Seow, freshmen at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Tired of having to rummage through their bags to retrieve their public transit passes every time they ran to catch a bus or train, Tiong and Seow decided to come up with a better way.

After spending a summer together at MIT, the two co-founders developed Sesame Ring – a small, wearable device that works on the “T,” the nickname for Boston’s public transportation system. Users can use the ring just as they would a public transit card. But if you’re running to catch a train, it’s much easier to swipe your hand in front of the scanner than to dig out a card from your bag.

Ring Theory initially raised almost $20,000 from close to 800 people on Kickstarter, which allowed the company to start producing the rings in early 2014.

Since then, Ring Theory has sold thousands of Sesame Rings from the online store, but the rings are also available from several physical locations in the greater Boston area. Because the rings are 3-D printed, the design is customizable. MIT, for example, sells one with the school logo from the university store. “We’re also working on other form factors, which we are excited to push through crowd funding very soon!” Seow told Opportunity Lives.

Though varying the designs could be a key growth area, it’s easy to see how Ring Theory could soon be developing rings for public transit systems in other cities around the world, or even for security access points in universities or corporations. It’s much harder to steal a ring than a wallet, and the Sesame Ring is also completely waterproof.

“We want to bring this ring all over the world, opening possibilities everywhere,” said Seow in a promotional video for the Sesame Ring.

Seow and Tiong will graduate in several weeks, and they plan to work on Ring Theory full time, focusing on expansion. “As a small 2-person startup, we’ve had to put on many different hats, managing customer service, production, finance, marketing, sales and more,” said Seow. “While there are long and tiring days (and nights), we’ve certainly learned a lot and are proud of the fruits of our labor.”

Seow said the process has taught her so much. The key to being a successful entrepreneur? “Find something meaningful to you, then take the leap,” she said. “Take every day as a learning experience.”

Published on Opportunity Lives