I’m fanatical about tech gadgets, but even more so for wearables and things that reliably fulfill my needs as a “Quantified Selfer“. Good quality sleep data has always been elusive. Many devices that I’ve tried were so intrusive as to ruin any chance of actually getting good sleep. Others just did a terrible job of reliably collecting the data that I wanted. I backed a Kickstarter for the Hello Sense and this was one of the first devices that really generated useful data. Not only did it track my sleep activity, but the base unit also collected data about my bedroom light levels and air quality. Sadly, the company went bust and the device ultimately became unusable after the cloud servers were shut down.
Another Kickstarter project caught my eye… the Oura ring… having been burned by so many crowd funded tech gadgets in the past, I initially held off on backing the project, but I kept a close eye on its progress and saw many great reviews on the original ring from people I trusted. When Oura announced a gen 2, I was all over it and jumped right in to purchase one as soon as I could.
I’ve had my Oura ring for a few months now and I feel totally qualified to review all aspects of it now that it’s experienced pretty much everything I can throw at it…. I am a HUGE fan of this thing! There isn’t much that I can complain about and I feel that it is worth every penny.
The Oura ring system consists of the ring, a mobile app, and the Oura Cloud… a web based equivalent of the mobile app which allows you to dig a bit deeper into the data and an API that you can use to write apps for the Oura Cloud or pull the data collected by your ring into other systems.
The ring looks like… a ring… much more so than the first generation… it doesn’t make you the focus of a room like wearing Google Glass did ? This is a pretty amazing feat considering all of the sensors that it packs and the fact that you can go days without needing to charge the battery. It’s waterproof and fairly resilient… I’ve definitely pushed mine to some limits that I probably shouldn’t have and it’s survived. The ring connects to the app on your phone via bluetooth and you can put it in radio silent mode and still have it collect data for quite some time before needing to sync it.
The sleep tracking of the device is rock solid. I’ve done tons of things to wreak havoc with my sleep in order to test the ring’s ability to detect it. Every morning after destroying my sleep in the name of science, I’d check the app. It would basically tell me, “Dude, go back to bed, you need it”. There really was no fooling its sleep detection.
I bought the Oura Ring mainly to track sleep time and sleep quality (as measured by the amount of time spent in the different stages of sleep), but the ring is so much more than ‘just’ a sleep tracker. The Oura app is divided into four sections: Readiness, Sleep, Activity and a Dashboard that surfaces summary information from the other three. The Sleep section tracks a few additional items above and beyond what I bought the ring for. These include a resting heart rate trend and sleep latency.
The Oura Ring is also an activity tracker. I’ve been wearing various activity trackers since the first versions were commercially available. I’ve never really been a fan of wearing anything around my wrist since they always seem to get in the way, but I’ve always overlooked that in order to get the activity data. The Oura app has recommendations for how much activity you should be getting (this changes daily based on your ‘Readiness’ which I’ll discuss later). It also tracks your progress toward your daily goal and the intensity of the activity that you do. You can also turn on notifications in the app to remind you to get up and move on a regular basis. For activity that gets your heart pumping, the ring does a pretty good job of tracking. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t always do the best job of tracking activity that is less vigorous. The app has the ability to manually input this type of activity. This is one area where I wish the Oura App would improve. I already track all of my activity in Google Fit and I would love if the Oura app could just tie into that ecosystem to get this data instead of requiring me to enter it in two different places. Most of the activity I want to track tends to get picked up by the ring, but there are certain activities (i.e. impact martial arts) where I remove the ring and need to manually track the activity. I like the fact that I can get near real time feedback about my activity intensity. This has allowed me to develop a routine that I can do frequently throughout the day that gets me into a high intensity level of activity very quickly (this is a must for any practitioner of High Intensity Interval Training).
The ‘Readiness’ section of the app really pulls together information from the other two sections to give you a general idea of how much you should push yourself on any given day. It takes into account how well you’ve been sleeping and how active you’ve been and combines that with trends regarding your HRV, body temperature and respiratory rate in order to provide a suggestion for ‘pushing your activity to new levels’ or just ‘taking it easy’ on any given day. I’ve found this to be great for me to figure out when are the best times during the day for me to workout and also what supplements seem to help me recover faster. It’s also pretty effective at giving me a heads up when I might be coming down with something and gives me an extra verification point to rest instead of pushing through it.
So there you have it… my Oura ring review. It’s an awesome piece of hardware. Besides the lack of support for Google Fit (bi-directional support would be awesome!) my only other real complaint is that I wish it came in half sizes… that would make it even less obtrusive than it already is! If anyone is interested in getting an Oura ring, let me know, I have a few discount codes that I can provide.