Smart Jewelry Maker Cuff Takes a New Route to Wearables

Deepa Sood, the company's founder, discusses her journey from printing 3D prototypes in her garage to generating nearly $1.4 million in sales in just a matter of months.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Nov 11, 2014

Cuff is a modular "smart jewelry" system that integrates a removable sensor module into a range of different jewelry options. The idea for Cuff came to founder Deepa Sood during a dinner party she and her husband were hosting last year in their Bay Area home. "My husband and his friends were geeking out over their fitness trackers, while I marveled at the [wristbands'] James Bond quality," says the former VP of product development for Restoration Hardware. "Then we [the women at the party] tried them on, and we were immediately trying to hide them behind other pieces of jewelry."

Sood says Cuff grew from a very simple concept. "I wanted to make a wearable that I would wear," she explains, and she also wanted it to support applications that had relevance to her life. To that end, she designed the Cuff system to enable her to receive important alerts. "When I go to a restaurant," says the mother of three, "I want to know if my husband calls or my babysitter calls. That's it."

Cuff's Deepa Sood
To launch the company, Sood reached out to California-based venture capital fund Tandem, which provided $600,000 in seed funding (she is nearly complete with a second, larger round), as well as a helping hand in finding sources with whom she could work to develop the sensor and software application. She made the initial prototypes of the jewelry components, she says—which include both bracelets and pendants worn on a necklace—"using a 3D printer, in my garage, with my kids."

A Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensor inside the Cuff module is paired with a wearer's smartphone. The user sets rules on the Cuff smartphone app that causes the sensor to vibrate whenever people on her special list call or text (assuming the phone and Cuff are within read range of each other, such as in the wearer's bag or pocket). Cuff also has a safety feature: If the wearer gets into a dangerous situation and requires help, a certain sequence of presses on the module (which she determines while setting up the app) generates a distress call to a pre-selected list of contacts, along with her location (based on the phone's GPS coordinates).

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