AppleInsider examines the Oura Ring, a fashionable piece of clothing that tracks key sleep metrics and can alert you to subtle health or body changes.
The Oura Ring is a sleep, readiness and activity tracker that glides over your finger. You can wear it day and night, while you are working, swimming or bathing. It’s not much bigger than a regular ring, and no one will suspect that this is cutting edge technology.
Oura doesn’t monitor as many daytime measurements as the Apple Watch, but it’s a good addition to Apple’s wearable. For starters, it has better sleep tracking. It also has more consistent detection of heart rate variability (HRV), which we’ll get to later in this review. Best of all, the companion iPhone app wraps your data in a user-friendly, easy-to-understand package.
Oura Ring: styles, purchase and configuration
You can order Oura in one of two different styles – Heritage and Balance – and different colors. The model shown in this review is Heritage Stealth, a titanium construction with a flattened edge and a dark gray matte finish. The main difference with the Balance design is that it has a single point instead of an entire flat edge. Both versions have the same technology and feature set, so your decision depends on which design you prefer.
When you order a ring, the company will ship you a kit first that includes plastic rings in different sizes. Once you’ve found the right sizing ring for you, Oura recommends wearing it for a full day before confirming. This is because the size of your finger can change subtly under different conditions.
The sizing kit was accurate for me. The plastic gauge that matches my ring finger led to a matching ring that fits perfectly. Oura lets you skip the sizing kit if you think you already know your size, but we only recommend it if you’ve worn an Oura ring before. It may be a little different from the size you wear for a standard non-technical ring.
Once you enter your size, the company ships your ring. Oura uses a size-specific charger, included with your purchase. The company claims the ring’s battery lasts for up to a week. Our review unit resisted this. We only put it on a charger once every three or four days when there was still about 50% charge left.
Oura Ring: Sensors
Oura has inserted several sensors into this little gadget. These include infrared sensors for heart rate and respiration, a sensor for body temperature, and a 3D accelerometer for movement.
Infrared sensors track your heart rate, HRV, and breathing. It uses LEDs on either side of the finger, which allows for a more accurate reading than the one-sided sensors on other portable devices. The temperature sensor monitors your skin at night and can detect changes as small as 0.1 degree Celsius. The accelerometer detects your nighttime movements. When combined with algorithms that identify your sleep stages, it can tell you how much time you’ve spent in deep, light, and REM sleep. It can also tell you when your sleep was disturbed and when you woke up.
What do you learn from Oura?
Oura tracks certain basic activities of the day, including steps, equivalent walking distance, and calories. However, we see this more as an add-on than a core selling feature. The Apple Watch and other dedicated fitness trackers do a better job with this.
The reason for getting Oura is nighttime tracking which can tell you how healthy you are and how you are feeling throughout the day. Each of the three scores – Preparation, Sleep, and Activity – has its own tab in the app. You can browse each tab to explore the finer details. These parameters include things like HRV, resting heart rate, body temperature, and REM sleep. It presents all of this in charts that show what happened that day and how your stats are changing over time.
Oura includes these trends when determining your score. If you’ve been stressed out or become ill, this can factor in a combination of higher heart rate and higher resting temperature and be a sign that something may be going on with your body. He is not a doctor or a fortune teller, but when he sees data suddenly change, he can alert you that something might be going on.
You can trigger many Oura measurements during the day by choosing the Moment option. Times are good for meditation, breathing exercises, or even a little nap. As long as you stay still and choose a session long enough, it will record your HRV, skin temperature, and resting heart rate. It will also trigger these measurements automatically during the day if it detects a long period of immobility.
We love the layout of the app. You don’t need to understand the data to benefit from it, as the app gives you personalized ratings and plain language ratings and recommendations. Still, the finest data is there if you want to learn more.
Oura Ring: how it can help you
The ring and the app don’t claim to do the job for you. As with any fitness tracker, it would be best to take Oura Ring as a place to start. It’s up to you to make changes that will give you more restful sleep and better preparation for the day.
Before using Oura, I knew next to nothing about most of its stats. Now, after over a month of use, I am monitoring them regularly and trying to figure out what may have changed if something goes wrong.
For example, I recently tested positive for COVID-19. Before I noticed any symptoms, the Oura app had told me that several of my stats seemed wrong. These included an elevated body temperature, an increase in HRV later at night than usual, and an increased resting heart rate. My preparation score has dropped significantly. Within a day or two, I felt a bit under the weather, and when I took a Covid test later, I found out I was positive.
Keep in mind that Oura is not a Covid detection device. It does not test you and will not explicitly tell you that you have it. My case simply illustrates that the ring can alert you to bodily changes that may indicate impending illness.
Oura also inspired me to learn more about HRV – the variability in time between heartbeats – and how to increase it. Studies indicate a correlation between a higher HRV and a longer lifespan. Likewise, a low HRV may be correlated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
There is no foolproof way to increase your HRV. Things that can help include exercise, eating a healthy diet, meditating, and not eating or drinking before bed. Again, the app doesn’t tell you what to change, but it can show trends over time. It’s up to you to do something with it.
Apple Watch also measures HRV. However, other than when using the Breathe app, it only records HRV at sporadic times. You need to be almost perfectly still to record an HRV recording on any current consumer device. This is why Oura mainly measures it at night and the Apple Watch doesn’t monitor it much at all.
Apple’s laptop is better at tracking fitness and health during the day, while Oura is better at tracking your sleep and how your nighttime stats might influence your day. Although the two devices overlap, they complement each other more than they compete with each other.
The app allows you to add pre-written or personalized tags for a given day. Tags help you connect the dots between your lifestyle and Oura’s results. You can observe the trends in your body over time and determine what may have influenced the changes.
Is Oura worth it?
Oura Ring costs a pretty dime, starting at $ 299. It will only be worth it if you are ready to start a journey to improve your sleep and lifestyle. You would be wasting your money to use it passively, without any change in behavior. However, we found the process fun. It inspires curiosity. It can put you on a path of self-improvement that is more enjoyable than stressful.
For those who want to learn more about their sleep, health, and what affects them, Oura is one of the best wearable tech buys you can make. HRV can be one of the most important ways to monitor your body. It combines with the other data in the ring to paint a bigger picture of your health and well-being. It’s not hyperbolic to say that the Oura ring has the potential to be life changing.
- Can inspire lifestyle changes that make you healthier
- The app informs you in a user-friendly and easy-to-digest way
- HRV quality monitoring
- One week autonomy
- Much more in-depth sleep tracking than Apple Watch
- Monitoring of daytime activities is rudimentary
- No HRV measurement during the day, unless you are perfectly still
- $ 299 and above the price is not cheap
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
You can only purchase the Oura ring from the company’s website. It starts at $ 299 and goes up to $ 999 for a diamond-plated model.