Oura has announced today generation 3 of their smart ring. The device brings additional tracking features, such as all-day heart rate, improved temperature and sleep monitoring, SpO2 and more. But all this comes at a price.
It has been a couple of years since the introduction of Oura’s second generation device. The product is considered to be one of the most popular activity and health trackers in its category – smart rings.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Granted, there is very little competition at the moment in this area as big brands have opted to stay out of this space. Apple has been rumored to be working on a smart ring for years, but nothing has materialized so far. Fitbit has also filed a patent for a blood-oxygen tracking smart ring recently but – we are yet to see if anything will come of this. Which leaves the coast clear for Oura.
Oura – Gen 3 ring
The outfit has just announced Oura Ring Gen 3. It comes with everything offered by its predecessors plus more. The company says there’s three times the number of sensors as the previous generation and 32 times the memory.
This translates into various improvements such as:
- All day heart rate tracking (courtesy of all-new green LEDs) and live heart rate data. All day heart-rate will be measured once every 5 minutes.
- A more accurate temperature system (7 temperature sensors – so four more than previously) for minute-by-minute readings.
- Restorative Time Recognition – recognized down times relaxing during the day to combat stress.
- Period Prediction based on body temperature readings. Oura says it can alert to the start of a user’s cycle 30 days in advance.
In late 2021 and early 2022, some more features will be added:
- More accurate sleep tracking;.
- Heart rate monitoring during exercise.
- Blood oxygen tracking from new red LEDs. This won’t be on demand – instead it will be automatic during sleep.
- The final add-on is a comprehensive library of wellness content. The educational topics range from meditation, to sleep, breath-work sessions and more.
All these upgrades mean the device will become a more rounded 24/7 activity and health tracking device. Battery life is expected to range between 4 and 7 days, depending on use. The size and weight is unchanged at a mere four grams.
In reality, there is nothing particularly innovative about any of this. We’ve seen it all before on the Apple Watch, Fitbits and Garmin sports watches. The advantage of the Oura Ring is that it is small and discreet, and tracks all these metrics from your finger. It is therefore ideal for those that do not want a fitness tracker or smartwatch on their wrist. The recovery and sleep metrics the ring dishes out, in particular, have been shown to be very popular. Some people therefore use the Oura Ring in combination with a sports watch.
Now for the bad news. If you want full access to the full range of new features, you will need to pay for a monthly subscription. Unfortunately, companies are increasingly choosing this option as a way to boost their income. Oura seems to be basing their model on Whoop which has opted for this route, as well as Fitbit.
We here at Gadgets & Wearables are not a fan of the concept. If you buy hardware, you should be able to access all the functionality that it is capable of producing. At least that is how we feel.
So what exactly is behind the Oura Ring paywall?
The answer to this question is – pretty much everything.
In addition to the price of the Oura Ring Gen 3 ($299), users will need to fork out $5.99 per month for membership. Those who pre-order Oura Ring will receive free six month membership after which the paid model will kick in.
Oura says they’ve introduced the paywall to invest in research and develop the product further.
Membership helps us invest back into our science and technology – significantly improving the way we refine and introduce new features into the Oura app.
In a Twitter reply, Oura as stated that those who do not opt for membership will only have access to their three daily Oura scores (Sleep Score, Activity Score, Readiness), ring battery and the profile info. Which is not really very much. This actually means that a lot of the functionality on the current generation device will not be available to those who purchase the new ring – unless they opt for the monthly subscription. As per some Reddit threads – a very unpopular decision.
To sweeten the deal, owners of the Gen 2 device who upgrade to Gen 3 will get a “free lifetime Oura membership” ($150 in value – works out to around a year and a half of membership). They’ll also get a discount on the purchase.
If you do not wish to upgrade, the company will continue to support the product for another 2 years. This will include software and firmware updates. You’ll also retain use of all the features that you are currently using. But you will not have access to some of these new features that are being introduced in the coming months.
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