You can wear smart rings like jewelry, but unlike a standard ring, it has a multitude of electronic sensors hidden inside it. From measuring your heart rate to monitoring your sleep pattern, a smart ring looks like it could tell us a lot about our bodies.
Given all the data that a smart ring can generate, what use do smart rings really have for our health? More importantly, is it right for you? Let’s take a look.
What are smart rings?
Smart rings look close enough to be a real ring. But packed with microsensors and tiny PCBs, they don’t just look pretty.
Some smart rings have an NFC case that allows you to make electronic payments. Others have electronic sensors for temperature, exercise, heart rate, and even oxygen.
Aside from the rings that act as safety keys, smart rings that monitor your health could provide fascinating insight into what your body is doing.
By continuously wearing your smart ring, you can collect enough data over time to see important things about your body. This can include your basic body temperature, for example.
After taking your temperature for some time, an app may be able to detect your average daily temperature. Some app developers say you can use this as a marker to let you know when your temperature reading is out of norm, which may indicate that you may get sick.
While it might not be impressive to record your temperature reading, it is the combination of several sensors that record 24/7 information that could be interpreted in more useful ways.
Interpreting the Results: What Smart Ring Data Means
If you are unwilling to understand the data, it can become just another piece of useless information. An app that tells you that you slept badly isn’t the first thing you want to hear when you wake up – and we can usually decide that ourselves anyway. The first step should be understanding what data is being collected and how the app can interpret it.
For example, Ōura uses sensor data on body temperature, heart rate and movement to contribute to a readiness score. A score of 100 is meant to tell you if you are ready to tackle the big tasks of the day or if you should take more time to rest instead. This could be good advice to prevent burnout if you are the type of person who forgets to check out how your body is doing from time to time.
The Go2Sleep Smart Ring, on the other hand, records data on how often you throw and spin, heart rate, oxygen, your sleep phases (light, deep, REM) and more; All of these help create a sleep score that tells you how well you slept last night. When you know this, you can begin to find out what contributes to better sleep.
In the direction of the commercial-medical sector, smart rings like the O2Ring concentrate on just one data set. This ring is designed to monitor your oxygen levels and claims to be used as a sleep apnea test at home. Other uses such as snoring, pneumonia, and asthma are listed, but more documentation would be needed here on how the O2Ring could help. The intent is to create reports that you can share with a doctor.
Note: With any product aimed at medical health, it is extremely important to always seek the advice of your doctor or health care professional first.
Make healthier choices with a smart ring
The main disadvantage of smart rings is that their usefulness depends on how you understand the data and what you do with that information, be it the raw data or the simplified metrics that many apps refer to as “scores”.
While some smart rings like the Ōura will give you easily digestible results on preparedness, sleep, and activity, you should balance this information with your real life experiences.
As with dieting, it can be all too easy to get caught up in counting calories without looking at the entire experience, including fitness, individual physiology, and lifestyle. More training in interpreting data wouldn’t be amiss, but until then, you can try it at home and make healthier decisions based on your smart-ring data.
Let’s take sleep metrics again as an example. When your Smart Ring app tells you that you slept well last night, start by making a note of what you did the day before. Was it a run that helped tire your body for a good night’s sleep? Or did you turn your phone off, which made you fall asleep faster? On the other hand, if you wake up with a poor sleep score, was it because you ate cheese before bed?
How to use a smart ring to live healthier lives
Smart rings simplify sensor data by producing results that are hopefully easier to understand. However, if you take the time to rest – just because your app recommended it – you can take away your autonomy in choosing your lifestyle that suits you. Therefore, an active approach will help you get the most out of a smart ring.
Whether it is about lowering your stress levels, spotting bad habits, gaining more energy, improving your exercise practice, or just sleeping better, the best benefits come when you incorporate Smart Ring data into your own framework.
Here are just a handful of ideas on how to use a smart ring to contribute to a healthier life:
- Monitor your heart rate while you meditate to give you concrete clues as to how well your session went. Use these markers, such as a constant heart rate, to measure and improve your meditation practice.
- Measure your running distance, heart rate and temperature for specific metrics that you can use to set goals and improve performance while exercising. Applies to sports and fitness.
- Determine what causes poor sleep at night by writing down your sleep conditions (or previous activity) and see how that aligns with your sleep score.
- If you know you’ve had contact with a sick person, an abnormal temperature reading can indicate that you are getting sick. If you suspect you might get sick, you can stay at home to avoid the spread of germs.
- Monitor your oxygen levels at night if you suspect you may have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Take these measurements to your doctor to discuss the results.
Are Smart Rings Right For You?
Having an app that can tell us when to rest based on data from our own bodies is a boon to wellbeing. But like most technologies that combine electronics and lifestyle, it is of course not just a plug-in solution for our health.
If you have clear lifestyle goals, smart rings can give you some measurable data that you can use. Use this data in the context of your individual life and smart rings can potentially help you make healthier changes in your life.
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