While smartwatches and fitness bands are the most common devices for tracking health metrics, there’s a niche that’s completely unexplored by the big wearable players: smart rings.
Products like the Oura Ring (pictured above) unobtrusively track the usual metrics like calorie burn, steps, heart rate and sleep, and rivals like the Ultrahuman ring even claim to keep tabs on metabolism. They do this while offering the kind of battery life that most smartwatches can only dream of, on account of having no screen to power — always on or otherwise.
It now seems that Samsung is considering getting muscling in on the niche with a smart ring of its own. According to the Korean site Naver (opens in new tab), Samsung has patented its own take on the smart ring-style wearable.
Interestingly, it apparently won’t just track the usual metrics, but will also include an ECG sensor to look for irregularities in the heartbeat — a feature that can be potentially life-saving and one that most smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 8 and even the new Google Pixel Watch bring.
A market worth exploring?
It’s fair to say that smart rings have yet to become popular in the same way that the best smartwatches and fitness trackers have, but the question is why. Do people miss having a screen, or are they just weirded out by something that’s traditionally purely aesthetic jewelry needing charging?
Another possibility: are they not on every finger because a big player in the wearable market has yet to sell one? Smartwatches only became hugely popular when Apple joined the party in 2015 (opens in new tab), after all, and maybe the arrival of Samsung in the smart ring space could suddenly make them an essential accessory.
They certainly have advantages over more mainstream wearables. Not only is battery life measured in days due to the lack of screen, but they’re far more discreet than even the most basic smartwatch. Small and lightweight, you may forget you’re wearing one, which is perfect for those who passively want to track their steps, sleep and exercise.
It’s likely these qualities that mean Samsung — and Google-owned Fitbit — are showing some interest in smart rings. All the same, it’s important to remember that a patent application isn’t necessarily proof that a company is going to turn an idea into a commercially available product. All it shows is that Samsung is exploring the possibility, so don’t start saving for a Galaxy Ring just yet.