Sesame Ring: #SmartTravel

The Sesame Ring, designed and developed by MIT students and the Singapore University of Technology and Design, is an interesting invention that aims to introduce smart travel to public transport systems.

What is the Sesame Ring?

A unisex ring that passengers can easily slide on to their fingers, The Sesame Ring is designed to work as a replacement for the CharlieCards that are required to gain access to the trains and buses in Boston.

Having missed the train many times while fishing for our CharlieCards…we looked for a solution in wearable technology”, say the founders of the ring.

It’s interesting how the rings are made – through 3D printing, which gives the makers the opportunity to produce larger quantities of the ring quickly and easily, if the idea becomes popular.

Sesame Ring


The rings are equivalent to other fare cards and can be used on any T machine that accepts a CharlieCard. These rings are embedded with the same tap-and-go technology used in CharlieCards issued by the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), the fourth busiest public transportation system in the US. Similar to CharlieCards, the rings – with an RFID chip inside each one – can be recharged at the several designated kiosks across train stations.

Kick-starting hassle-free and efficient travel

Born as a Kickstarter project, the idea received several backers on the website, and also caught the attention of the MBTA itself, whose approval was instrumental in lifting the project off the ground.

The ring has already become popular, with more than 1,000 rings shipped out after the initial testing. They’re available in several bright colours at the moment, and the makers have promised to make it customisable. The rings are also resistant to natural elements –  a feature that makes sense for a product that’s susceptible to significant wear and tear from daily use, in a city notorious for snow storms and strong winds.

While the rings can only be used in Boston now, the founders’ goal is to make it available for use in public transport systems across the world, and eventually replace smart cards altogether.

Disruption in Travel

The Sesame Ring makes for a telling example of how wearable tech is gradually but surely blending seamlessly with various aspects of our daily life.

It’s a product with potential for success because it blends utility – which is no longer looked at as an advantage, rather as a necessity in wearables- with style.

Experimentation to transfer this technology to more products like keychains, smartphone covers and personal accessories like bracelets is already on.

Could we soon see a future where access to public transport – made possible with train tickets, subway passes, etc. – will be granted with our wearables?


Video: Learn more about the Sesame Ring

This post is a part of our monthly People’s Insights brief for April – Part 2: The Mobile & Wearable Web

Melanie Joe

Melanie Joe

Melanie is Consultant - Research and Insights at MSLGROUP, based in Mumbai. She tracks inspiring initiatives in the digital space for People's Insights.

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