The battle for health wearables has entered a new category—and form factor—in India: smart rings.
Over the last few weeks, consumer electronics brand boAt has released a teaser for its forthcoming smart ring, while personal technology brand Noise has introduced the Luna Ring—an ultra-lightweight smart ring that promises to track your health vitals, just like a smartwatch. Health-tech company Ultrahuman, known for its continuous glucose monitoring device, and Dhyana, a Hyderabad-based startup, also launched finger-worn sensors recently.
Globally, brands such as Oura and Movano have been shaking up the wearables market with smart rings. In 2022, Oura, known for iterations of the Oura Ring, sold its millionth ring.
At the CES 2023 tech show in Las Vegas, US, in January, Movano debuted the Movano Evie, the first medical-grade smart ring designed for women. Set to be released in September, it will track a user’s resting heart rate, heart rate variability, SpO2 levels, respiration rate, skin temperature variability, period and ovulation, menstrual symptoms, activity profile, including steps and calories burnt, sleep stages and duration, and mood.
In India, the overall wearables market has been growing. In 2022, according to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC’s) India Monthly Wearable Device Tracker, the wearables market shipped 100 million units, with smartwatches accounting for 30.7 million, a growth of 151.3% year on year. Smart rings are now slowly catching on.
“The finger gives you the best area to detect such health data. There are a bunch of capillaries and arteries packed together,” says Bhairav Shankar, creator and co-founder at Dhyana, the company behind the Dhyana Smart Ring, which has been designed and manufactured in India. Dhyana’s development of its smart ring started in 2018, focusing on a meditation tracking ring that was launched in 2019 and tracked a user’s heart rate variability, or HRV, during meditation.
The new Dhyana Smart Ring, which is available for pre-order at ₹16,600, has more features: everything from mindfulness tracking to mood and sleep analysis, apart from tracking steps, calories and SpO2. Apart from the Dhyana app, the ring can also work with other wellness apps and services—Calm, Headspace, etc.—to improve their offerings with biometric data, explains Hyderabad-based Shankar. Shipments will begin at the end of September.
“Any ring will always be limited in terms of features and functions as compared to a watch because it doesn’t have a screen (or display). But this is a product that can be made at a fraction of the cost of a smartwatch and delivers ultra-accurate data that can be used by so many services: everything from hospitals to functional trainers on platforms like Fittr and Healthify. We are certainly hitting a new segment of the population,” adds Shankar.
Rings rely on a host of sensors to gather health metrics that can be relayed to a smartphone app. A 2022 study showed that the Oura ring—and other similar wearables—could detect early signs of covid-19, including oncoming fevers.
The Luna Ring from Noise will be available in seven ring sizes and uses a mix of advanced sensors (including infrared photoplethysmography, or PPG, sensors, skin temperature sensors, and a 3-axis accelerometer sensor) to measure physiological signals. It can track more than 70 metrics and delivers three primary scores: on sleep, readiness and activity. All this can be viewed on the NoiseFit app.
Noise co-founder Amit Khatri says it will appeal to users regardless of age. “We have been working on the Luna Ring for more than a year now. I have also been a consumer who wanted a minimal form factor. We were talking to a lot of consumers who said they weren’t comfortable wearing a smartwatch when they sleep. Then there are those who wear analogue watches but still want a smart wearable to go with that. That’s how we thought this (ring) was going to be a good product,” Khatri explains in a video call.
Designing the ring, he adds, was tough. “It does the same thing as a smartwatch—but without a display. So that meant fitting a lot of sensors from a bigger form factor into something smaller,” says Khatri.
The build quality is strong, owing to a titanium body and diamond-like coating that resists scratches and corrosion, he adds. The ring was open for pre-order with a priority access pass but Noise is expected to release more details on availability in the coming days.
Meera Sapra, 40, a marketing and leadership leader at the technology company Zoho Corporation, has been using the Ultrahuman Ring AIR ( ₹28,999), which was launched in June, for the last couple of weeks and says she finds it less intrusive than a smartwatch. “I still use the Apple Watch, especially when I go for a swim. I just found the smartwatch to be a glorified notification device. So, I wanted to try a less intrusive way of tracking (my health vitals) but not having to receive notifications,” says Delhi-based Sapra. “The best bit has been the sleep insights. Wearing the ring to bed is less of a hassle and I am happy with the experience so far,” she adds.
According to the IDC data, the wearables market is attracting both first-time users and upgraders as brands continue to offer features that were earlier available at mid or high price points, at a lower price.
With Samsung reportedly working on a Galaxy Ring and Apple recently winning a patent for a future smart ring input device for MacBooks, TVs and AirPods, you should keep your finger on the pulse of this segment.