Aside from smartwatches, I feel like the other category wearable I've been talking (and writing about) the most recently is the smart ring. A wearable that was seemingly written off before it even had a chance to get off the ground.
But then a couple of startups actually made good ones. Motiv is now onto its second generation ring, having added security features to the fitness tracking skills it introduced in its first gen device. And there's the Oura Ring. Favoured by tech royalty and actual royalty, it's a smart ring that wants to be a wellbeing coach that lives on your finger.
So I was really keen to try one. Our Motiv and Oura Ring reviews were on the whole positive. When Motiv decided to start shipping to more countries, I had to get in on the action. After using Motiv's sizing kit and getting several of the dummy rings stuck (sending me into a mild panic), I received my smart ring not long after.
The only time I've ever worn a ring was when I was about fifteen and I thought it was a good idea. It didn't last long on my finger. So wearing a ring again was a weird feeling. After a few days though I actually liked it being there. I enjoyed spinning it around my finger while sitting at my desk or on the train into work. Doing that also prompted the ring to read my heart rate as the notification on phone reminded me.
I'm not going to get into all the nitty gritty details about data accuracy etc, because we've already done that in our reviews. What I really wanted to know was what a smart ring was like to use, did the wearable form factor make sense and could I really wear it 24/7?
Motiv and Oura should be applauded for what they've achieved with these devices
What I instantly realised is that Motiv and Oura should be applauded for what they've achieved with these devices. Slim profile rings packed with sensors that don't feel like pieces of technology. That's what any wearable maker strives to create. A device that lives discreetly on your person with innovative features that you'd actually want.
I like the idea that I could track my fitness from my finger and measure heart rate with accuracy. Sleep tracking with a ring instead of a watch is a winner in my eyes too. It's all been largely positive. But like anything, the more you live with it, the more you start to notice things. And in many cases, it's the problems you start to notice.
For me it was the argument for a 24/7 smart ring. Or 'the smart ring you'll never want to take off' as Motiv exclaims on its website. Except there were some times that I did want to take it off and should've taken it off.
That first time was when I decided to play football with it. I looked down at my finger, and it was a bloody mess. It looked like my finger had expanded from the sweat of running around and the heart rate sensor had clearly dug into my finger.
The second time was when I decided to use it in the gym. It was no problem running on a treadmill, but when it came to moving into the weights section, I wished I had taken it off and left it in my locker.
The most surprising scenario where I felt the need to take this ring off was when I went swimming. The waterproof ring wasn't uncomfortable or irritating to wear in the water, but something just didn't feel right and I decided to place it on the side of the pool and continue my session without it.
I get it. Not everyone that's going to want or buy a smart ring like this is going to use it in the same rigorous way that I used it. But I'm sure there will be some people that will and that's why I wanted to share my experience.
No question, I have enjoyed using a smart ring on the whole and it's made a refreshing change from slinging another watch around my wrist. But as a robust ring that's built for monitoring your fitness, there's clearly some work to be done from a design and software perspective. Would I wear a smart ring again? I'm still wearing the Motiv ring now, which says it all really. I'll definitely be taking it off for the next game of football or weights session that's for sure though.