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A “magic” ring

The various components in the Oura ring. Notice the electronics and the sensors. Image credit: Oura

In the last few years more and more people have started to turn to their watch to glance at their fitness, how many calories have been burnt through the day, how many steps have been taken, even look at their heart beats through the day.

People practicing sports have been using specific devices to track their training progress, fitness bands and even sensors patches that can be “glued” to various parts of the body during the training sessions. Some football players even swallow a pill before the game to have their internal temperature monitored and alarm sent in case of overheating.

The future will see more and more sensors on (and in) our body to track a number of physiological parameters that will be used to monitor our health.

In this line is the Oura ring, a simple ring that you would not give a second glance to, that is embedded with sensors. You can find an interesting in-depth review on Wired. The ring embeds a LED infrared sensor, a temperature sensor, an accelerometer, a gyroscope. The position of the sensors, constantly in touch with your finger, is ideal to pick up all sort of data.

A strong point for the ring is that its battery lasts several days so that you can wear it all day, and night, long. This makes possible to harvest data over a long period of time, continuously (whilst with a watch you take it off for recharge, usually during the night. Besides, a watch may be annoying if worn through the night…).

The data are captured and analysed by the app on the smartphone deriving the heart beat, the pattern of your body response to physical activity and based on your personal “history” detect anomalies. This is the most interesting part. The app learns your baseline in about a month (getting more and more precise as time goes by) and compare the data against that baseline. An increase in beat rate (taking into account the physical activity at the time) can be fine for a person but can be a signal of threatening situation for a different person.

Looking at the picture I am impressed on the number of “stuff” that can be squeezed into a simple ring, aren’t you?

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.