It's impossible to discuss the blossoming smart rings category without mentioning Oura. Pioneers in the space, the Oura Ring Generation 3 is the smart ring for which all others are compared and the best fitness tracking smart ring available today.
For good reason: It's a discreet yet advanced tool for monitoring wellness and recovery metrics. However, while Oura may be the biggest fish in the smart ring sea right now, that's about to change. The Samsung Galaxy Ring is tipped to launch this summer. Meanwhile, Amazfit and Evie both rolled out enticing-looking smart ring models earlier this month at CES 2024. And we're only a month into the year.
We had the chance to speak with Hale via email to get his take on the Galaxy Ring, how AI will be integrated into future Oura products, what customers might expect in an Oura Ring Generation 4, subscription pricing and more.
2024 seems like a big year for smart rings. What we can expect from Oura?
Tom Hale: New, innovative features — we’re committed to evolving Oura Ring’s capabilities and showing its value to our members. Building on the Daytime Stress feature that was launched last year, Resilience, launching next month, creates an assessment of members’ ability to withstand physiological stress by tracking daytime stress load, daytime recovery and recovery during sleep. Coupled with Daytime Stress, Resilience enables Oura Members to balance between stress and recovery by providing insights, education, and recommendations to manage stress and improve overall health.
Our long-term vision is to shift the healthcare paradigm from one of disempowerment to one where people are in the driver’s seat of their health. We believe that technology can enable healthcare that is more personalized, data-driven, and preventative. This has implications for everyone from individuals to healthcare providers, insurers, employers, etc. It’s an ambitious mission, but it’s something we’re working toward every day at Oura.
At present, Oura is the smart ring brand to beat. What are you doing to maintain your competitive edge?
New players entering the space are validation for the category. We’ve been around for over a decade — so it’s taken quite a while for others to catch on to the ring form factor!
Over those ten years, we’ve invested heavily in research, accuracy validation and the development of new features. In 2023 alone, we launched Daytime Stress, Reflections, Circles, Share Report, Chronotype, and Cycle Insights, as well as announced partnerships with Equinox, Headspace, Best Buy, Talkspace and more, adding to Oura’s list of over 600+ partners.
We release new features regularly and have the strongest IP portfolio — in both hardware and software — for the smart ring form factor, with hundreds of granted patents, pending patent applications and registered trademarks.
Additionally, we’re continuing to focus on women’s health, a category others in the wearables space have previously ignored, to help women better understand their bodies.
Our first foray into the space was our Period Prediction feature, which has since expanded to Cycle Insights — we then introduced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Natural Cycles. We’re also prioritizing research and the development of tools for women to better understand and track their menstrual cycles.
We also recently expanded our Medical Advisory Board to include a range of unique and diverse perspectives across fertility, pregnancy, menopause, sleep and more.
What role will AI play in analyzing data and providing meaningful, actionable advice to Oura Ring wearers? Where does AI need the most work?
We’ve already begun incorporating AI into features for our users. For example, our Reflections feature is a new, AI-powered journal function in the Oura App.
By enabling members to speak and record a short journal entry and use a single gesture to record mood and mental state, the Oura App takes the effort out of journaling, tracking mood, and tagging. Speech recognition transcribes the text, while AI-powered auto-tagging automatically creates context for a member’s Oura Ring data.
With advancements in AI and machine learning, wearables will not only need to track health data but also provide more personalized insights and recommendations to users to help them make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle.
Thanks to AI, we will see several big breakthroughs in longevity and aging. We are only just starting to understand the mechanisms of aging, and we’ll see an explosion of rejuvenation therapies that promise to slow the process.
Given your successful partnership with Natural Cycles, can we expect future Oura collaborations?
Oura’s partnership ecosystem is 600+ strong and growing. Our API allows data integration with partners to leverage Oura’s continuous, accurate data to support their customers, giving us the ability to reach new audiences.
We’re doubling down in specific focus areas with partners across several sectors, including women’s health, metabolic health, behavioral health and fitness and lifestyle.
Is subscription pricing here to stay for the foreseeable future/what if the competition ditches monthly fees?
Our members invest in being a part of the Oura community because they can see and feel the value from day one. And the value and insight they get grows over time. The more you use Oura Ring, the more is unlocked in terms of understanding yourself.
That’s why we see incredibly high rates of member retention and why we’re always pushing ourselves to meet our members’ needs with new features and offerings.
The Oura Ring fitting process is a tad tedious. What are you doing to address this in future product releases?
Getting the sizing right is important for accuracy and optimal performance. We are always listening to feedback from our members and looking for ways to optimize their experience.
Through our retail partnership with Best Buy, shoppers can size themselves in person at 850+ retail locations nationwide, making it even easier to size yourself before purchasing Oura Ring.
Any chance we’ll see support for digital payments in future products given your acquisition of Proxy? I know this is one of the most asked-for non-health features.
The acquisition of Proxy has allowed us to accelerate our innovation and strengthen our position as a leader in the consumer wearables market. We don’t have any news to share right now, but we’re excited to continue exploring new capabilities for our members.
When can Oura Ring 3 users expect additional stress monitoring features to roll out? The last time we checked, Resilience was still in beta.
Resilience will be available later this month and will enable members to balance stress and recovery by providing insights, education and recommendations for managing stress and improving overall health.
Resilience measures members’ ability to withstand psychological stress by tracking daytime stress load, daytime recovery, and recovery during sleep.
Non-wrist-based smart wearables are clearly a hit, but why stop at smart rings? What are your thoughts on expanding beyond the finger?
Oura chose a ring design because the finger provides a stronger heart rate signal. The ring can read directly from the arteries in the finger, whereas wrist wearables sit on the top of the wrist, away from the arteries on the bottom of the wrist.
We continue to see the ring design be conducive to the best accuracy and we plan to stay focused on improving Oura Ring.
For prospective smart ring customers, in short, what does the Oura Ring offer that others don’t? What's the elevator pitch?
Oura pioneered the smart ring space, recognizing the finger as the best place on the body to gather the strongest signals and most accurate data over ten years ago. In the last decade, we have achieved unparalleled science-backed accuracy and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D, design and manufacturing.
Our innovation in health and our focus on sleep has resulted in nearly 10 billion hours of continuous tracking, yielding the most comprehensive set of smart ring data in the world. We have a robust partnership ecosystem of 600+ partners and hundreds of patents in the smart ring space. Oura’s Finnish roots and holistic approach allow every person the information they need to improve their health and give every body a voice.
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Dan Bracaglia covers fitness and consumer technology with an emphasis on wearables for Tom's Guide. Based in the US Pacific Northwest, Dan is an avid outdoor adventurer who dabbles in everything from kayaking to snowboarding, but he most enjoys exploring the cities and mountains with his small pup, Belvedere. Dan is currently training to climb some of Washington State's tallest peaks. He's also a big photography nerd.