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This Sleek, Sleep-Tracking Ring Will Nudge You To A Healthier Life

Get real metrics on your sleep–and tips on how to improve it–without the annoying trade-offs of other sleep trackers.

There are no shortages of ways today to track your every step or snooze. But most sleep trackers out there ask people to sacrifice either comfort or accuracy, and some require users to commit the counterproductive sin of looking at their sleep-killing screens just before bedtime.

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Oura, a company in Finland, aims to overcome these trade-offs with a sleek new wearable device that is easier to wear, highly accurate, and has no screen or buttons. At the same time, Oura also says it goes deeper on the analysis front, with daily recommendations on how a person can improve their “readiness to perform” while awake and ability to get quality sleep.

“This ring is so simple that when you put it on your finger, it starts to measure automatically. When you take it off, it stops. There are no buttons, no displays, no LEDs–nothing,” says Petteri Lahtela, CEO of Oura.

The product, also called the Oura, is a waterproof ring made out of ceramic zirconium. Inside are sensors that measure heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, and movement. Lahtela says Oura’s algorithms interpreting sleep cycles closely match analysis done at several sleep laboratories in Europe. Its standalone computer has temporary memory storage, so it doesn’t require a phone to be nearby, but when your phone is around it syncs with it automatically. Its battery can hold a charge for three days.

The accompanying app is where the personalization happens. Its main view is a flow of messages that recommend short-term actions based on your last night’s sleep and analyze long-term trends. For example, it might say that if you didn’t get a good sleep the night before, you might want to engage in light or moderate exercise at a certain time of day to help you recover. It will also suggest the optimum time for you to go to sleep the next night. The more Oura gets to know a person’s patterns, says Lahtela, the better the recommendations will be.

Another interesting feature of Oura is its integration with a new app called Curious. Since 2011, Linda Avey, a co-founder of the genetics testing company 23andMe, has been working to launch Curious as a way for people to make sense of all the personal health data they’re collecting, whether it’s from a wearable device, an app, or a DNA kit.

The Curious mobile tracking app.

The app, which is still in beta, acts partly as a catch-all repository and analytics platform for all this data, partly as a discussion forum, and partly as a big data platform. Avey’s hope is users can use it to ask questions of their tagged data–like “how can I improve my sleep?”–and discuss answers with other people who are similar to them (say, all the night owls). Like 23andMe, users could also opt to share data with researchers, would be able to search for patterns to better understand patients with particular health conditions or wellness profiles.

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As Avey opens the Curious app to a variety of beta users, Oura is the first device her company is partnering with. “By far, sleep is the topic that people who have signed up are asking the most questions about,” she says. “We spent a lot of time evaluating various wearable technologies on the market. We thought, if we’re going to focus on sleep, we would really need a technology that would enable accurate tracking. We landed on Oura.”

Meanwhile, Lahtela says that he thinks Curious will help empower users to learn even more about themselves. “Our common passion is to create the community of people who are aware want to be more aware of how their sleep quality affects their daytime performance and how their daytime performance affects their sleep,” he says. “The Curious app, it brings the social aspect, and it’s much deeper than sharing your data than Facebook or something like that.”

All of this will come at a cost. Through a Kickstarter campaign, Oura will be available for $229. It is preparing for delivering at least 10,000 orders by November.

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About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.

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