Ring Theory

Getting on the train just got much easier.

The days of rummaging frantically for the card that gets us onto public transit may be over.

A team of engineers from MIT has created the 3D-printed "Sesame Ring," which has an embedded RFID tag that lets you tap it to a RFID-based fare reader and hop on. Watch the demo:

The team first conceptualized the ring in January; a working prototype was tested by over 300 university students in Singapore. The waterproof Sesame Ring now works with the MBTA transit system in Boston -- which uses the RFID-based Charlie Card. The first commercial batch of Sesame Rings just opened to the public through a Kickstarter campaign. The $17 early bird special is already sold out, but for a donation of $20 or more, you can get a black or gold ring delivered by Christmas. More colors and personalized designs are available with a bigger donation.

The campaign is just one day old and it's already nearing the $5000 goal. The team said over email that if the funding pace continues, they'd gladly fulfill the additional requests, as well as look into better methods of fabrication (i.e. using injection moulding to give the rings more hardiness and a matte finish) and accommodating more types of Charlie Cards (i.e. monthly auto-renewal and senior citizen passes).

Fun Fact: Sesame Ring's design was in part inspired by the MIT tradition of an intricately designed class ring, seen here on Iron Man, a fictional alum of the university: 

Image via MIT Admissions 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A tow truck operator hooks up a damaged bus in 2011 in New York.

    Should Transit Agencies Panic?

    Many predict that new technology will doom public transportation. They’re wrong.  

  2. An aisle in a grocery store

    It's Not the Food Deserts: It's the Inequality

    A new study suggests that America’s great nutritional divide goes deeper than the problem of food access within cities.

  3. Transportation

    How Toronto Turned an Airport Rail Failure Into a Commuter Asset

    The Union Pearson Express launched with expensive rides and low ridership. Now, with fares slashed in half and a light rail connection in the works, it’s a legitimate transit alternative for workers.

  4. A dockless bikeshare bike on the streets of D.C.

    What People Mean When They Call Dockless Bikeshare a 'Nuisance'

    In Washington, D.C., some residents are not enthusiastic about the free-range rent-a-bikes.

  5. Transportation

    The Automotive Liberation of Paris

    The city has waged a remarkably successful effort to get cars off its streets and reclaim walkable space. But it didn’t happen overnight.