April 20, 2024


A smaller way to track wellness

If you’re sick of lugging around a watch for basic body stats, there’s good news: Smart rings are picking up steam in the gadget zeitgeist. With Samsung’s announcement that it would launch its Galaxy Ring sometime in 2024, the wearable category is heading for mainstream.

 Smart rings look like everyday accessories. They may be a more comfortable form factor for some people since they are less overt than a smartwatch or fitness band. They can measure most of the same stats, including sleeping habits and daily average step count. They can even track vitals like heart rate, blood oxygen, and skin temperature over an average period.

Once Samsung launches the Galaxy Ring, these mini wellness wearables will become a thing. There’s enough buzz that Apple is rumored to be working on its version of the smart ring. But before we get there, let’s consider the state smart rings now and how the smaller brands are holding down the product category.


By the digits

4-7: Days of battery life a smart ring wearer can reasonably expect from a charge (though seven is admittedly from the more upscale models)

About $300: Price you should expect to pay for a worthy model that can track the basics

About $500: Price you should expect to pay for a worthy model in your choice of finish (if you want gold, it’s going to cost you)

$6/month: Price for an Oura Health membership to keep tracking key stats on the Oura ring

5-12: Ring sizes to consider when shopping for a smart ring 

$1 billion: How much revenue smart rings are expected to make by 2028


Listen up

Image for article titled Smart rings: Data at (or at least near) your fingertips

Illustration: Vicky Leta

Think you don’t wear a wearable?

Think again! The very headphones you wear to listen to this Obsession’s author, Florence Ion, talk to host Gabriela Riccardi about smart rings can be considered a wearable. That’s what Flo says, and she’s the wearable expert.

But smart rings are the wearable to watch. In the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast, Flo will tell you more about how the data you collect with a more accurate tracker won’t magically fix your health, but it can be a useful tool, if you know how to use it.

🎧 Listen now on Spotify | Apple | Google | Pandora

👓 Read the full transcript here.


So you’re finally considering a smart ring

Don’t toss out that smartwatch just yet. Smart rings are still a relatively nascent category. Oura Ring, RingConn, and Movano have been relative hits thus far in fostering a healthy user base. But Oura has set a precedent for subscription payments, worrying folks waiting for Samsung to launch the Galaxy Ring. If you’re on an Apple Watch, one of the more long-standing wearable platforms, you probably aren’t considering a ring until Apple has something to say about it. If it helps the consideration, most of the new smart rings hitting the scene are iOS compatible first.

If you are shopping for a smart ring now, there are a few things to consider before swiping your credit card on a new wearable. Look for an LED heart rate sensor and a SpO2 sensor to be mentioned on the box if you want something centered toward wellness. Smart rings can have anywhere from three to seven different types of sensors. The more crammed in there, the pricier they’re likely to be. But in turn, you’ll also get the most anecdotal data from a smart ring packed to the gills. And don’t forget about your ring size: most smart ring makers offer a sizing kit before they ship out the product.

If you’re thinking of wearing a smart ring around the clock — when it’s not charging, of course — the good news is that most of the popular smart rings are mostly waterproof, so you can wear them in the pool or while rinsing dishes.


Pop quiz

Mood ring science reflected temperature, not mood. But what was violet purportedly supposed to represent?

A. Happy
B. Romantic
C. Anxious
D. Calm

Don’t let your mood get frustrated. The answer is at the bottom.


Brief history

1477: Year the first recorded diamond engagement ring was given (to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximilian of Austria) — we’ve obsessed about diamond rings, too!

2013: A U.K.-based Kickstarter asked for £30,000 to create an NFC-enabled payment ring, which made its first appearance on a very public stage at…

2016: The Rio Olympics. This is also the year that Oura, seen by some as the gold standard of smart rings today begins its own quest on Kickstarter.

2022: Oura is valued at $2.5 billion.

2024: The Verge says, “This might be the year of the smart ring”.


Take me down this 🐰 hole!

Smart rings can track heart rate variability, average skin temperature, rate of respiration, and blood oxygen. Like a smartwatch, they can track sleeping habits, daily step count, average heart rate, and average body temperature overnight. Smart rings offer companion apps to help predict periods and ovulation. They also have the benefit of lasting longer than a smartwatch before requiring a charge—up to a whole week from brands like Oura Ring, which currently dominate the market.

As more smart rings enter the market, look for brands focusing on ovulating bodies, as they tend to offer a little more for this specific clientele. Smart rings like the Evie Ring have been made to allow some movement during that particular time of the month when the body can’t help but retain water.


Poll 

What’s your favorite use for a ring?

  • Engagement! I love old traditions.
  • Just make it part of the look! If it doesn’t matter, there’s no point.
  • Health and wellness tracking
  • Storing poison. What can I say?

Tell us your super-smart answer. It’ll just take a second.


💬 Let’s talk!

In last week’s poll about tail lights, 64% of you said you prefer amber flashing turn singles, which means you were paying attention! They’re safer!

🐤 X/Tweet this!

🤔 What did you think of today’s email?

💡 What should we obsess over next?


Today’s email was written by Florence Ion (reluctant wearer of wearables) and edited by Susan Howson (still prefers dumb rings, but was almost convinced by Flo’s podcast episode).

The answer to the quiz is… well, it was a trick question. Violet was supposed to represent happy OR romantic. Maybe this is why mood rings failed. Another fun fact is that they were often made of…quartz!





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