Finger-worn wearables are so hot right now. Smart rings, the lovechild of jewelry and fitness trackers, are designed for anyone who longs to log health metrics without the bulk and annoyance of a notification-happy computer on their wrist.
But in contrast to the many screen-based options in the fitness tracker space, smart rings have been thin on the ground so far. Your main choice as of December 2021 was the pricey Oura ($300 for the second generation model, plus a $6 monthly subscription for ongoing health insights). Celebrities such as Jack Dorsey and Gwyneth Paltrow are among Oura’s devotees.
But as of January 2022, the smart ring universe is expanding. Health wearables company Movano just announced its first product, the Movano Ring, which will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (Yes, Omicron notwithstanding, CES is still going ahead.)
The Movano tracks sleep and activity metrics, and is working to gain FDA clearance to monitor vital signs such as body temperature — something even the latest Oura can’t provide yet. Movano’s companion app is focused on combining these metrics to predict how you’ll be feeling on any given day. Tracking body temperature isn’t just good for figuring out when you have a fever. It could also be useful for anyone who is trying — or not trying — to get pregnant.
With the combination of a robust app and metrics with a ring that looks pretty cool (check out the bold arrow design and matte/metallic colors above), Movano looks like it could be real competition for Oura. When it actually comes to market, that is. Movano says the ring will launch in beta the second half of 2022, and hasn’t released the price yet. All the company says is that it will be “priced competitively, aiming to be widely accessible and affordable” — presumably meaning it’ll be less than $300.
Meanwhile, Oura went in the other direction with the launch of the $399 Oura 3 in December. (The company asked all reviewers to spend several weeks with the device before writing about it; Mashable’s review will drop in January.) The main advantage of the new version is that it introduces heart rate tracking during the daytime, so you can finally see how your heart is doing during exercise. Oura previously avoided that metric, in part because it billed its device as more of a sleep aid than a fitness tracker.
Oura and Movano aren’t the only smart ring options. Walmart recently began selling a $299 “heart and blood oxygen wellness monitor” made by Prevention (a magazine and healthcare company) called the circul+ Smart Ring. It’s substantially more bulky, and one reviewer described it as “less smart than its rivals” thanks to a limited feature set. But if Walmart is getting into the game, you know something’s up.
A number of other smart rings, the crowdfunded kind, claim to be coming to market in 2022. There’s the ArcX (designed for exercise, including a stopwatch), the Circular (more for sleepers, including circadian rhythm tracking), and the Go2Sleep (an odd design which will track the strength of your pulse). We’ll believe them when we see them in production. There are also smart rings that aren’t focused on fitness or sleep. Instead, they serve as fobs that you can use to lock or unlock, or to pay for your sandwich at the store (like Apple Pay, but on a ring).
Don’t bet on smart rings replacing smartwatches any time soon. But they are increasingly looking like a complimentary gadget for tech lovers and tastemakers with extra money on their hands. With 2022 shaping up to be a battle between Oura, Movano and a host of Hobbit-like underdogs, we could easily end the year with one smart ring to rule them all.