So far, Oura is the only company that’s really established a fingerhold in the smart ring market, but at CES 2022 we saw a few ambitious competitors, including startup Movano, which plans to beat Oura on both price and features.
Smart rings are notoriously tricky to get right, as the Logbar Ring, Amazon Echo Loop, and Ringly proved. If none of those names sound familiar, it’s because none of them quite struck the right balance of style, features, and price to earn a place on customers’ hands.
At CES, Movano showed off a smart ring that tracks all the same metrics as the third-generation Oura, including sleep, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen, steps, and calories – with plenty more features in the pipeline too.
Movano hasn’t revealed how much the ring will cost, but the company told CNET that it would be cheaper than the Oura 3, which costs $ 299 (about £ 230 / AU $ 420). The company is currently awaiting FDA approval for its sensors, but assuming everything gets the green light, the ring is expected to go on sale later this year.
It’s not planning to stop there, though – Movano also wants to include blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring in a future iteration of the ring. Changes in blood pressure can be estimated using the same optical sensor used to track heart rate (which is the method used by watches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3), but blood glucose is much trickier.
There’s a lot of work currently underway to develop a smartwatch that can monitor changes in blood sugar without the need for finger prick tests. Researchers are currently investigating ways to measure blood glucose non-invasively using spectroscopy, which uses lasers to identify different chemicals, and the SugarBEAT monitor from UK company Nemuara Medical measures interstitial blood glucose by drawing molecules through the skin using a mild electrical current.
Both of these examples are a long way from being available in consumer smartwatches – let alone a device as small as a ring. Movano hasn’t given a timeframe, but says it’s currently conducting its own clinical trials, so we’ll keep a close eye on its progress.
One thing it definitely seems to have nailed is the design, judging by its promotional images, which show rings in three designs and four tasteful metallic colors. Things have come a long way since 2020, when Amazon tried to cram Alexa into an oversized piece of jewelry.