There appears to be no limit on what can be “smart” nowadays. You can buy anything from smart speakers to smart light bulbs to smart tech you can wear.
Smart rings are the very latest in wearable technology, and they’re showing promise among consumers.
Let’s take a look at what smart rings are, how they work, and what the top brands are. Then, we can weigh the various pros and cons of these rings, so you can decide: Are they a must-have for your modern life?
Let’s find out.
- 1 What is a Smart Ring?
- 2 How Do They Work?
- 3 What Metrics Do They Track?
- 4 Top Smart Ring Brands
- 5 Pros and Cons of Smart Rings
- 6 Conclusion
What is a Smart Ring?
Smart rings are – as the name implies – a form of jewelry that can perform similar tasks to smartphones, but with an added bonus; you can control these clever accessories via gesturing.
They also have the ability to directly connect to (and thus help you control) your smart devices and the Cloud, as well as send you custom notifications for certain apps and other reminders. Certain smart rings also double as fitness tracker rings for the more health-conscious person.
When it comes to size, they appear very similar to average rings worn as jewelry, though some can be larger, due to all the tech it’s built around.
How Do They Work?
All smart rings utilize Bluetooth technology, allowing them to communicate with other Bluetooth-enabled devices from up to 328 feet (or 100 meters) away.
Since smart rings lack a display screen, they use the context of their surroundings to operate.
As such, they can help you make payment when they sense that you are near a payment terminal, or unlock an electronic lock when you are close by.
Some smart rings will also have physical buttons on them, which you push when you want to make a gesture command. These are less common, however.
Displays and Notifications
There are a few prototype rings that boast fingernail-sized displays, but the main function of smart rings is to act as a secondary notification device.
This keeps you updated on everything in your digital arena without having to glance at your phone.
Pair with the App
Of course, this means you’ll also need to pair your smart ring with its brand’s associated smartphone app.
Most apps of this nature are used to customize your ring’s settings, including what other app notifications you’ll receive from your phone. This can include anything from Twitter, to Instagram, to e-mail, and calendar notifications.
To perform a gesture-based command, smart rings also need a quality 3D accelerometer – or motion-detecting engine – to sense your movements.
The hardware and software within this one sensor can detect the real-time position of the ring, relative to your surroundings and other Bluetooth-enabled devices nearby.
These sensors then transmit that data back to your smartphone or whatever smart device you’ve synced it with. This can be especially helpful if you want your smart ring to also act as an activity tracker ring.
Smart Rings in Action: Oura
To get the gist of what else a smart ring is comprised of, let’s take a look inside the Oura ring as an example.
The Oura smart ring uses four sensors:
- An infrared optical pulse measurer.
- An accelerometer.
- A gyroscope, which is a sensor that detects your movement and balance.
- A body temperature sensor.
It also has an on-board battery and a microcontroller, which helps stabilize gesture commands. All of this is then wrapped in a thick carbon coating and a hypoallergenic, non-metallic molding on the inside of the ring.
That’s a great deal of tech stuffed inside this tiny package! No wonder some smart rings are on the heavier side.
What Metrics Do They Track?
Much like fitness-tracking smartwatches, fitness rings can track the number of steps you take in a day, as well as your heartbeat, your temperature, blood flow, and even your sleep patterns.
A downside of this, however, is that smart ring sensors aren’t quite as accurate as those on smartwatches, due to their more compact size.
Their smaller batteries also mean lower battery life, which may discourage you from buying one.
Top Smart Ring Brands
The Oura-brand smart ring focuses on measuring three primary aspects—readiness, sleep, and activity levels.
Like any good fitness-tracking device, it can make personalized suggestions to your routine and show you sleep and activity trends over time. Its infrared optical pulse measurement device, 3D accelerometer, gyroscope, and body temperature sensors are also incredibly accurate.
It comes in two models, with ring sizes ranging from US6 to US13. The second model is significantly slimmer than the first, which is great for those who are seeking a stylish design.
While a bit pricey, its various features and decorative look make it one of the best smart rings on the market.
Here’s a video showing how the Oura smart ring performs.
Motiv’s waterproof smart rings are just eight millimetres wide and come in glitzy rose gold, slate gray, and titanium. They also have seven ring sizes to choose from.
The battery lasts for up to five entire days (more than your phone would tolerate!). This fitness ring can track your steps, distance traveled, and even your heart rate.
With new Alexa support systems, you can control other connected smart devices and even log in to your Facebook, Amazon, and Google accounts with a gesture.
The ORII smart ring can read out text messages and notifications to you, and (when your finger is held to your ear) even take calls.
They’re available in several stylish colors, including matte black, sandblasted silver, metallic dark grey, and armor red.
The NFC waterproof smart ring focuses on helping you accomplish more mundane tasks, such as being able to unlock phones and doors, transfer information, and link with other people.
The ring’s two sides also correspond to the kind of information you want to transmit or keep hidden. Essentially, the inner, hidden part of the ring houses private things, like your smart door lock and payment information.
It requires you to perform a deliberate gesture to access it. Meanwhile, the information you feel more comfortable sharing (like your e-mail address) is laid on the outer, top part of your ring, so you can transmit it to others without hassle.
NFC’s smart rings possess a wide range of subtle designs, catering to men and women alike. This includes a ceramic-coated, glossy black ring that might fit your style particularly well.
This smart ring may be uniquely enticing to those business-savvy people among us.
It holds the same contactless payment tech packed into similar, contact-free payment devices, and it will even create a secure, isolated bank account where you can access any of your cards. Right now, however, it only accepts Visa and Mastercard.
To make a payment anywhere, simply make a closed fist gesture. The ring’s companion app then lets you keep tabs on where you spend money, the average amount spent per month, and an innovative, automatic top-off system that keeps you from spending too much.
Currently, the McLear smart ring is only available in the U.K. However, the company does plan to launch these rings in the U.S. in late 2019, as well as in Japan in 2020.
Blinq is an Android- and iOS-friendly, luxury, smart ring collection that takes a style-oriented approach. The Montreal-based startup offers beautiful sterling silver and 12-karat gold smart rings, which come in 12 unique styles with seven different gemstone centrepieces to choose from.
Its aesthetic mirrors conventional jewelry, more than your typical smart ring would. Ring sizes range from US5 to US10, and are shipping out worldwide if you want to buy one now.
These smart rings are amazingly water-resistant and promise up to 48 hours’ worth of battery life. Each ring has an SOS Alert feature, where you can then tap a custom sequence to send out texts to your friends.
A special backlight will activate behind the gemstone each time you get a new notification, and it also includes a basic activity tracking system.
The Xenxo S-Ring has a wide variety of features, including:
- Receiving and making direct calls.
- File storage.
- Changing music with the swipe of your finger.
- Making payments on-the-go.
- Keeping track of your fitness goals.
- Reminding you if you forgot to pick up your phone.
- Calling for help without alerting nearby strangers.
- Accessing doors with its Bluetooth key.
- Acting as an alarm clock that wakes only you up.
- Knowing the current time.
Pros and Cons of Smart Rings
Take Them Anywhere
Most smart rings are designed to be waterproof, dustproof, and weatherproof, making them perfect to take along to nearly any activity.
Set-up is also quite straightforward. Just connect it to other devices via Bluetooth and play around with the settings to your heart’s content.
Some smart rings are adjustable, while others may be stuck at a certain size.
You can easily buy a customized ring from certain smart ring brands, too, so browse around at your options before committing.
Depending on the brand, a smart ring can cost anywhere from $30 to $150 or more. Of course, the more expensive the ring, the fancier its abilities will be.
Always be sure to pick a ring that not only fits your finger but your budget, too.
Smart as they are, unfortunately, smart rings do not come with their own self-cleaning mechanism.
As such, to prevent germs from growing on it, you will have to manually clean it on a routine basis.
There are certain smart rings made for iPhones specifically, while others are only compatible with Androids.
You should always check the ring’s compatibility with your devices before accidentally purchasing one that ends up unable to connect with your phone!
Basic or Advanced Features
Not every smart ring brand has the same features. While many of them possess the same basic features, what your smart ring offs will depend on your personal style and preferences.
Certain devices focus solely on fitness, while others are used only to receive notifications.
The more features the ring has, however, the more energy it uses up per session. Certain smart rings will provide rather lengthy battery lives, but others will need to be charged several times throughout the day.
It’s best to thoroughly research whichever model you’re considering beforehand, so you don’t end up rushing around, trying to find a charging station every few hours.
Unfortunately, while many smart rings are resistant to water, they aren’t resistant to getting scratched.
In fact, most rings’ finishes are of shockingly poor quality. Even a casual brush against a hard surface can leave a permanent mark along the metal.
Due to all the tech stuffed inside it, many smart rings are also quite bulky and heavy, which may annoy people with petite hands.
It may also bite into your finger as you try to lift something heavy, so it’s wise to remove your smart ring prior to strenuous activities.
The gesture-based command system may also irritate some people. Rather than use simple gestures to complete simple tasks, smart rings force you to perform several charades instead.
For example, to turn on the lights in your house, you simply point at the ceiling and draw a light bulb in the air. After taking a picture with your phone, you can flick your finger upward to upload it to Facebook. You can also draw a bird to send a Tweet or a music note to play some music.
It can be quite taxing and silly after a while, and you might just find it easier to use your smartphone to do all these things instead. After all, you are buying this ring for convenience, not to play charades.
This video gives you an example of what it’s like to use one kind of smart ring.
Smart rings are one of the latest wearable innovations, and they are already quite versatile. With so many features and styles to choose from, it can be difficult to know which is right for you.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a better idea of what to look for in a good smart ring.
Do you have a smart ring? Would you buy one? What are your favorite things about smart rings?