The Oura Ring's packaging reminded me of Apple. Megan Hernbroth/Insider
The ring weighs less than five pennies and tracks a person"s vital signs like temperature and heart rate from its perch on their finger.
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It isn"t considered a medical-grade device by the Food and Drug Administration, but partner research with West Virginia Universityfound that its heart-rate tracking was roughly on par with that of a standard electrocardiogram, or EKG.
I got the silver color to match my other jewelry, and it has a small bevel on top.
The ring is sleeker than most wearables and camouflages well with business-casual clothes.
It is equipped for wireless charging, so all you have to do is set it on the black display mount to charge. The display mount lights up to indicate the ring is charging and uses an USB cable to plug into another power source. It does not come with the adapter that connects the USB cable to a wall outlet. So I commandeered one of the USB ports on my partner"s alarm clock instead.
"We find that the charging cable without the bulky brick is standard, it"s also our move to reduce package waste, which in turn reduces the size of our box and our yearly carbon footprint," an Oura representative said.
The ring came charged, but I was advised to charge it once overnight before starting to wear it. It is supposed to hold a charge for up to seven days of continuous wear, but I had to pop mine back on the charging dock on about day six.
The Oura Ring's charging pad did not come with a wall-outlet block. Megan Hernbroth/Insider
My first day wearing the ring was not great.
The silver was pretty obviously plastic, which might have been fine if I weren"t wearing other jewelry, but together it looked pretty out of place.
The ring was bulky and took up roughly half the space on my finger between my knuckle and the first joint on the middle finger. I struggled throughout the two weeks to get used to the thickness of the band itself, which definitely seems suited for people with larger hands than I have. For comparison, it was thicker than the two rings I wear on my ring finger combined.
Because it was so thick, the first few nights I kept adjusting it when going to bed. Oura"s ring is most known for its sleep-tracking data, but I had a hard time getting used wearing it while falling asleep.
When asked for comment, an Oura representative said that its customers prefer wearing a ring to other wrist wearables because of the stronger pulse signal in the fingers, which provides more reliable data than at the wrist.
Oura said it prioritizes the measurements it gets at night.
"As daytime readings are more likely to reflect daily stressors or lifestyle variables, nighttime is the best opportunity to get an accurate representation of your overall well-being due to your body being in a consistent state," the representative said.
Oura Ring sleep data, left, compared with Garmin sleep data. Megan Hernbroth/Insider
The breakdown of my night"s sleep was highly specific and usually tracked well with how I felt in the morning. Garmin"s data is much less detailed. I found both devices collected roughly the same data and came to the same conclusions — I need better sleep.
I had trouble remembering to check my app each day, which meant that my ring didn"t always sync correctly to display my stats. I am used to the watch, which displays most of your stats on its face, so it was an afterthought each time I checked.
But I can see how the app becomes something you check each morning to see how well you slept the night before. It feels gamified, in a way, because of the deeply detailed data you get after synching the ring each morning. The different colors and bars make the data fun to look at and compare across multiple nights, so I can see it appealing to people who enjoy that sort of layout.
Working out with the ring was difficult if I used weights. Megan Hernbroth/Insider
I tend to work out in the mornings, and I wore the ring for those sessions as well.
I"ve been training for the upcoming outdoor-climbing season and a host of other big outdoor summits for next spring, so my workout regimen has consisted of long runs and strength training. During the two weeks I used the ring, I averaged about 4 miles daily, plus 10 minutes of upper-body or core strength.
The ring often got in the way often when I would weight train, and I don"t wear other rings for that very reason. The plastic surface got scratched easily and kept shifting out of its position with the sensors on the fleshy side of my finger. Gripping kettlebells was mostly out of the question with the ring, but hand weights managed OK, minus the scratching. For what it"s worth, the kettlebells also do not get along with my Garmin watch and have often damaged the screen.
The Oura representative said that wearing the ring on a non-dominant hand was the best way to avoid scratching.
After a while, my fingers would swell, and the ring would become extremely uncomfortable to have on. A few times, I took it off entirely to complete my workout. I did not have to adjust the sizing on my watch.
The ring is really good at picking up the motion of your hand while you"re running and will include a prompt in the app after syncing to confirm the type of workout you just completed. It measured speed, heart rate, and calorie burn roughly on par with the Garmin. It struggled more with lifting movements and automatically categorized those exercises as "other."
I eventually got used to wearing the ring daily. Megan Hernbroth/Insider
I tend to remove all of my jewelry when showering and applying skin-care products, and I opted to do the same with the Oura ring.
It"s water- and sweatproof, but as someone with long hair, the idea of wearing a ring in the shower makes me cringe because of the likelihood of my hair getting stuck in the ring while I"m washing it. No way was I chancing it — I removed it each and every time I showered the entire two weeks.
I also kept it off when applying lotion or skin-care products. Since the band is so thick, it really gets in the way of activities that require a lighter touch. With something like jojoba oil, the ring easily gets coated in the oil and slides around. For thicker creams, it irritated the skin on my face and felt clunky.
Just a few days into wearing it, I noticed I was removing the ring a lot more than I probably should. I found it hard to see how a worker using their hands for anything other than typing would be able to keep the ring in position and out of the way during a shift, or how a parent might be able to keep it on through multiple diaper changes in a single day.
If the idea is to wear this constantly, there are many barriers that I can"t see any ring device overcoming.
The Oura representative said that small gaps in wear do not impact the ring"s overall data collection because it is specifically designed to work continuously overnight. However, the representative also said that continuous wear is the best way for users to get credit for daily movements that go beyond counting steps.
"For those only interested in monitoring their sleep, wearing the Oura Ring at night is an option. However, if you choose to wear the ring only at night, please be aware of the potential limitations," the representative said.
After about a week, I got more used to the size and weight on my finger. I stopped taking it off during workouts and was able to do some yard work with it on, even in 90-degree heat. During the two weeks I wore the ring, my body temperature remained consistent. Temperature has been a key metric used to identify COVID-19 infections, especially with Oura"s ring.
I think the ring can work for office workers that are already working from home. Megan Hernbroth/Insider
Once my two-week trial was done, I took the ring off and haven"t missed it.
It doesn"t allow for much change in finger size throughout the day. I most looked forward to tracking my temperature, and I was disappointed to find that it didn"t proactively alert me to changes throughout the day.
But I can see why many business professionals are drawn to the ring.
It"s really unobtrusive if you already have a simple jewelry style and stands out much less than some of the technical-looking watches in business or formal settings. It creates a really robust and detailed data set, and the app includes good recommendations for behavioral changes based on those points.
Employees who are already benefiting from remote work are likely the people who would be most comfortably able to use the ring daily. For others, I don"t know that wearing the ring strictly during work hours would have the desired effect of catching breakthrough infections because they would have an incomplete data set strictly around working hours.
I struggle to see how the ring fits in with the rest of the labor force, especially those who work in manual-labor industries or with children.
There are also safety considerations for manual laborers because wearing items on hands and fingers poses a significant safety risk. Many occupations, like factory workers and mechanics, outright ban such jewelry because the risk of injury is so high. I have a feeling the Oura Ring would likely fall into such bans in many of these industries.
My biggest concern is that Oura has fallen into the same trap most Silicon Valley startups do: The company made a product that promises to work for everyone but comes up short for a large portion of the population. Small changes like adding a silicon version could go a long way in making the ring more friendly to more types of workers.
The Oura representative said that the company has a diverse set of customers, including healthcare workers, professional athletes, and Olympians.
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If the country is going to reopen as safely as many hope, we will need a solution that works for more than just the office workers already logging on from their couches. We will need a solution for bartenders that won"t slip off while they"re washing dishes and one for warehouse workers that won"t get in the way of taping boxes on a production line.