Artificial Intelligence
The development of artificial intelligence has created both opportunities and challenges for businesses seeking to keep up to date with new technology. AFP / OLIVIER MORIN

During my time as a University student, well over a decade and a practical lifetime ago. Long before I hosted radio shows, wrote articles and voice acted, I studied Digital Media Design at Winchester University.

An excellent course which teaches you how to design games, apps, websites and cutting-edge devices. Or, at the very least, it tried to...

In truth, it wasn't my life's calling, but I did see many cool things being thought up by my fellow students. Genius little bits of everyday tech that one day, may become the latest trend. I may not have had the technical skills to succeed in that side of the market, but I definitely have a keen eye for nifty bits of tech.

Then along came a story which showed what happens when you pair that kind of genius tech design, using already established and everyday technology, with something eye-catching enough to potentially grab the eye of demographics and leave a footprint on our collective Zeitgeist.

I've only ever heard of chipped nails as a bad thing, from complaints from partners, friends and family. A blight on something which took time, effort and money. Well combining the well-known phrase, along with a certain NFC tech, means that phrase may see a grammatical change of the guard.

Replaced with 'Chipped' nails.

It's the brainchild of Winny Eth, a crypto-native founder, creator and public figure in the blockchain industry. She's the Co-Founder of Gossip Protocol & Chipped Nails. She saw the concept on social media, a DIY beauty hack, and made it into a full-fledged product, but it all came from spotting a nuisance in her daily life and turning it into an opportunity.

"Chipped started about a year ago because I do climbing and lots of sports it got really expensive having to go to the salon to get them taken off all the time, so I started doing my own."

"I've been in tech and blockchain for about five years at this point and just really love experimenting in ways that are also kind of feminine. I'd seen a few girls on TikTok and Twitter putting the NFC chip in their nails so I was like, 'Cool, I'm going to order those off Aliexpress and do it myself.'"

She soon found that they came in handy at a variety of Networking events, proved there would be a potential market, and made that all-important connection to make the whole thing take off:

"I go to conferences a lot so it was just a super easy way to be able to share my information and in such a memorable way. My friends loved it and I was like ok how do I scale this, so I reached out to Kikiworld which is a decentralised beauty brand as they have the production ability and we just started to build!"

So in a nutshell, for those not up to date with the latest tech phrases, essentially a chip, as you would find in a standard mobile phone, is inside the Press-on nails and these can be linked to a variety of websites and locations, such as Instagram, Twitter or Whatsapp.

This is how Chipped describes the process: "Each nail set is equipped with a smart, chipped thumb, creating a tactile link between the wearer's link of choice and any chosen acquaintance's device."

"The NFC chip embedded in the thumbnail is programmed to link to digital profiles or content chosen by the wearer, from social media accounts to Proof of Vibe credentials. The customisation options offer a unique journey for each user, ensuring that no two Chipped experiences are alike without the traditional complexity of crypto tools."

So essentially, you can link up online, without the need to repeatedly spell out the username you picked for yourself a decade ago, or a long phone number, with an all-important digit potentially getting lost in the mumble of a busy crowd. A way to ensure that information is passed on is simply by tapping a nail.

It is still very early doors, so we might not see immediate revisions in online dictionaries for the phrase "Chipped Nails", but it ticks a lot of the boxes for what it takes to succeed as a product.

It's got that catchy name. It's identified, firstly, an annoyance with an existing product and secondly, a gap in the market, but then they've combined it with an established technology that we know works. Near-field communication is used in your everyday life already, from your phone to your smartwatch. Even that key fob you use to get into your office, underground car park or the gym. Those are just a smattering in the vast sea of examples in which NFC chips come in handy.

Chipped takes a TikTok DIY Meme and turns it into a functioning device, but it's not just in a logical sense that they have the wind in their sails and chips in their nails.

According to Winny, it has had a good reception at the customer level as well: "It's been amazing, we did an activation in Istanbul and chipped over 200 people and in three days had about 1,500 data points made. Not just from the girls too, so it has been a super exciting reception, and online too!"

You can find them on an online retailer which creates products based on what members vote for. It's a practice that, in theory, seems to make sense. It gives those buying the product some sense of ownership and creativity, which could be a novel idea – and one that lines up with Winny's perspective too.

Winny said: "Getting people to recurrently vote is difficult but it aligns so much with governance beliefs as we move into a world where the capitalist hierarchy is changing between consumer and company, and also it just allows you to make a cooler product that people actually want to buy."