by Matt Weik
2020 was a year where either Americans started taking their health and fitness seriously, or they completely fell off the wagon. Regardless, there was one fitness/health company that has seen exponential growth during the pandemic. Who is this company? It’s Oura – the wearable health and fitness smart ring. While I wouldn’t say the product is fashionable by any stretch of the imagination, what it does, on the other hand, is actually quite remarkable and important.
A Discrete Piece of Wearable Tech
Health and fitness tech has come a long way since the early days. Back then, people would don huge displays on their wrists that were gaudy and… well, quite ugly. Today, everything has gone minimalistic and streamline with an app to compliment the tech.
You can currently purchase the Oura ring in black, gold, stealth (which resembles black), and silver. If you prefer to wear rings instead of something on your wrist, most people won’t even realize you’re wearing a piece of health and fitness tech. Best of all, unlike most wearable tech that needs to be charged just about every night, the Oura ring will provide you with around seven days of battery life before needing to be charged. Once on the charger, it will only take 20-80 minutes to supply the unit with a full charge.
While Oura has seen HUGE growth, this could only be the tip of the iceberg for what Oura is able to do down the road. By the year 2024, the biometric and wearable device market is expected to exceed $71B. When just looking at the sleep aid market alone (which includes supplements, weighted blankets, etc.), it is expected to reach $101B by 2023. This should tell us that there is a shift towards sleep improvement across the US, and more people are paying closer attention to sleep health. The entire health and wellness market is expected to reach a staggering $1.3T by the year 2025.
If you were to look at Oura solely, to date, they have sold over 300,000 rings and house a 200-person team. Their team has found that 75% of their users check their app within an hour of waking up, and 77% of users actually continue wearing the device past 90 days (instead of dropping off and never wearing their ring ever again like most wearable tech out there).
Coming in at $299, this one-time cost is pretty much in line with other devices on the market, such as the Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Garmin wearables.
What Makes Oura Unique?
This is probably the million-dollar question. With everything out there, why choose a “ring” over everything else? For starters, they claim that the finger is much better for collecting physiological data when compared to the wrist. It’s also something that can be worn (and recommended) all day. You can get it wet, you can wear it during workouts, and the only thing you really need to pay attention to is that the sensors must be on the palm side of whatever finger and hand you choose to wear it on.
The ring utilizes NTC body temperature sensors, an infrared LED sensor, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer, to name a few key technological components.
While Oura tracks your activity level during the day, it does much more than simply count your steps. Oura measures your training volume, steps, training frequency, recovery time, calories burned, heart rate, body temperature, as well as your inactivity and activity balance.
Interestingly enough, Oura can also tip you off if you may be falling ill by monitoring your body temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate. Should you not be feeling well, you can check the app to see if you may be running a fever and show signs of elevated body temperature. But it doesn’t just end there. The Oura ring truly shines by its ability to also monitor your sleep.
Why would sleep be so important? Actually, for many reasons which we’ll touch on shortly. The Oura ring measures your total sleep, REM sleep, sleep efficiency, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, sleep latency, nighttime movement and restfulness, deep sleep, and timing. Through these measures, you have the ability to not only improve your overall health but also your fitness and productivity.
Why Does Sleep Matter?
When you sleep, your body goes through many processes – everything from muscle recovery, hormone balance, producing new cells, improving memory, and more. The recommended number of hours you should sleep each night is seven. Unfortunately, most people know they don’t get that much, and they don’t need to be told. They wake up exhausted and moody. It is estimated that more than 70M Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. I guess the good news from that is now, with the help of the Oura ring, you have a way to understand precisely what your lack of sleep is doing to your body and what YOUR optimal amount of sleep is.
Is it possible that you need seven hours of sleep? Maybe you need eight hours? Could you be an anomaly and only need five or six hours? You wouldn’t know that answer unless you had a means of tracking and measuring your sleep. By wearing the Oura ring and looking at the results on your app, you can determine not only how things are looking from a health standpoint but also rest and recovery.
If maximizing your training, recovery, and health is of interest to you, the Oura ring could be exactly what you are looking for in a discrete piece of wearable tech. And at the current price point, it doesn’t seem like a bad investment.
It should be noted that the Oura ring is NOT a medical device. To get more detailed information about Oura and all of its technology and capabilities, check out their website.