The makers of the Oura Ring are working on a new women’s health feature that would identify and predict the onset of hot flashes and the menopause.
In a patent filing spotted by Wareable, the company says physiological data gathered by the Oura Ring 3 sensors – like elevated skin temperature and heart rate during activity – could be used to spot hot flashes and then forecast when future episodes might occur.
The patent filing also explains how the captured data could be combined with a metabolic efficiency metric from the wearable device to reach conclusions about the onset of the menopause or, with “relative probability”, assess when the user will experience menopausal symptoms.
In aspects of the filing, Oura Health explains users would receive a smartphone notification, outlining when a hot flash may be on the way, with recommendations for steps that could mitigate its severity.
The proposed technology could be a major breakthrough in offering more robust information and tools for women experiencing changes in their cycle, and empower them to make more informed health choices.
One section of the filing, published on 16 March 2023 reads:
“Techniques described herein may notify a user of the detected/predicted menopausal symptoms in a variety of ways. For example, a system may cause a graphical user interface (GUI) … to notify the user of a predicted hot flash and make other recommendations to the user.
“In one example the GUI may display a time interval that the future hot flash is predicted to occur and recommendations that the user prepare for the perimenopausal, or menopausal symptoms based on previous input systems.
“For example, the system may generate recommendations about when the user might consider avoiding certain food/drinks, intensifying the user’s training or building in more recovery time based on the predicted symptoms.”
Read more: Wearable cycle tracking features explained
The patent points out that certain biomarkers can appear before the onset of the recognizable symptoms and early detection of biomarkers and treatment of any symptoms can be key in preventing associated later-life health risks like cardiac disease and cognitive dysfunction.
Improvements in quality of life, sleep, and mood are also possible in the short term with lifestyle optimizations, the patent says.
The data could also enable the efficacy of hormone replacement therapy treatments to be assessed vs more holistic behavioral and diet-based solutions, the filing explains. The effectiveness of both can be measured via sleep and heart rate variability metrics also captured by the Oura Ring.
It's not entirely clear whether the detection and prediction technology would rely on placing more advanced sensors within the Oura Ring hardware, but it appears not. Thus, this may be an update eventually received by owners of the currently-available hardware.
The emergence of the patent follows a study published last year where researchers used the Oura Ring to study changes driven by the menstrual cycle. The study was published in the International Journal of Women’s Health last April.
“The Oura Ring is an ally for scientists. It is helping us to understand how physiological changes vary across the menstrual cycle. This is particularly important when we are studying how these changes happen for women with different reproductive statuses, like approaching menopause,” wrote the study’s lead author Dr. Elisabet Alzueta.
Wareable approached Oura for comment and a spokesperson told us:
"Oura strives to promote a culture of innovation, and we are always taking measures to protect ideas that could shape our feature offering in the future. While we don’t have any capabilities directed to menopause detection that we can share information about at the moment, we are constantly working on new features and research to benefit our members and the larger health tech space."
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