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Put a Ring On It—And Monitor Your Health

February, the month of Valentine’s Day, can be dangerous if you’re not careful. You could end up with a ring on your finger. But it may not be what you think: There’s always the outside chance your significant other could be teetering on one knee to wish you a long, happy, healthy life—with the gift of a smart ring.

At the recent CES consumer electronics and technology showcase in Las Vegas, a number of companies showed off new high-tech smart rings designed to give wearers new insights into their personal health and daily work, sleep and exercise routines. All incorporate lightweight electronics and multiple sensors and provide feedback via connected mobile apps. All also succeed very well at masquerading as low-tech jewelry.

The Circular smart ring’s sensors, which include red, green and infrared lights, can track heart rate, blood oxygen levels, steps, movement, breathing rate and other data points, all of which are used by the app to provide continuous feedback. The ring has a tiny vibration motor that can quietly send smartphone notifications to your finger and a tiny button that can be used to trigger smartphone features.

According to Circular, a Paris-based startup, the smart ring “…focuses on how the user responds to their activi­ties, daily choices, and rhythms and provides personalized recommendations based on the data it gathers rather than just providing raw metrics and graphs.”

The Movano Ring also incorporates multiple sensors into a finger-worn wearable that tracks sleep, heart rate, respiration, blood oxygen and other variables. Movano, based in Pleasanton, Calif., said the ring is “available to all consumers, however, it is designed for females first.”

Here again, the app’s feedback doesn’t rely on single data points but tries to give a bigger picture, like how the quality of sleep might correlate with data gathered while exercising. Movano said it was working to incorporate its proprietary, radio-frequency-based, non-invasive technologies to add glucose and cuffless blood-pressure monitoring capabilities to the ring.

The Oura Ring Generation 3 builds upon a smart ring ecosystem that has become so popular that it was used by the NBA to monitor players during its pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The new unit includes many of the sleep, activity and health features offered by Circular and Movano units and adds daytime and workout heart rate feedback and much more internal flash memory than was offered by older models by the Finland-based company. The new Oura smart ring also offers access to audio and video guides in addition to the feedback provided by its app.

My tech tips appear regularly in Sree's Sunday Note.

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