What Is Oura Ring?

Published on: Feb 14, 2017

Oura Ring is a wearable device that claims to combine top-tier science and technology with insightful design that can help you better understand how your activity and lifestyle choices affect your sleep—and from there, how the quality of your sleep impacts your ability to perform during the day.

How does it work?

Called a “ring-sized wellness computer” by the manufacturer, Oura fits on any finger and measures your pulse waveform, the exact time between your heartbeats, and movement.

Then, it uses this information to calculate heart rate, respiration rate, sleep, and other important parameters.

This precise analysis then allows Oura’s iOS and Android app to deliver messages that can help you learn what health benefits you’ll get from specific activities while providing actionable recommendations on how you can improve your sleep, as well as how you can adjust daily activity to achieve better balance and performance.

It seems like new wearable technology enters the market every day, each one promising to deliver a meaningfully different experience and provide better results than the next.

With such steep competition, is there anything about the Oura Ring that places it above other sleep and fitness trackers? Before handing over your money, are there any important considerations you should keep in mind?

Let’s start answering your most important questions by taking a closer look at Oura’s details.

How Does the Oura Ring Work?

The exterior of each Oura Ring is manufactured from a scratch-resistant, waterproof ceramic compound called Zirconia (ZrO2), while the inside area that sits against your skin is made from a comfortable, “medical grade, 100% non-allergenic, nickel free, and non-metallic material.”

It will run for three days on a single charge and will recharge in less than 60 minutes when the time comes.

The Oura RingThe Oura Ring, shown here in Mirror Black finish, can be worn on any finger. Image credit: Oura.

See those three little bumps inside Oura’s band in the above image? These dynamic sensors sit directly on your finger’s artery, which allow the ring to recreate your pulse waveform. Compared to wrist-based trackers, we’re told this is much more accurate.

In this position, Oura will monitor every single beat your heart makes, along with the distance between each one, which is known as inter-beat-interval (IBI) or heart rate variability (HRV).

It will also measure pulse amplitude, respiration rate, and body temperature, while the built-in accelerometer monitors hand and finger movements.

Tracking Sleep Restorativeness, Activity Level, & Readiness Score

While you’re awake, this data allows the Oura Ring to monitor the duration of your activities and your inactive time. While you’re asleep, it also allows Oura to determine the state of your brain and your sleep stages (deep sleep, REM).

Note: Oura currently only displays one sleep period per each 24-hour period, although multiple periods (such as naps) should be supported in future releases. Until then, daytime naps are calculated as “resting.”

In addition to stages, Oura will track other physiological signals, like total sleep time, efficiency (the percentage of time you spend sleeping), sleep timing, latency (how long it takes you to doze off), lowest resting heart rate, and disturbances during sleep, all to determine its quality and restorativeness.

From there, we’re told Oura will calculate a total Sleep Score each night. Combined with your daytime activity data, it will then calculate a Readiness Score that can help “guide you in making better lifestyle choices.”

Specifically, Oura claims this can help you better understand which days to push your limits and which ones to allow your body more time to recover. This is all displayed via the app, which is what we’ll discuss next.

The Oura Ring App

All of the data tracked by Oura’s sensors is uploaded to your iOS or Android smartphone automatically via Bluetooth LE (can only be paired with one device at a time), although it can store data for up to three weeks without syncing.

The Oura AppIn these screenshots, you can see much of the information provide by Oura’s app, including recommendations, notifications, scores (sleep, activity, readiness), and data tracking. Image credit: Oura.

According to the company, Oura’s app will provide increasingly personalized messages as more data is collected about your sleep and activity habits. As a result, this can lead to better analysis and more accurate guidance.

Important note: Unlike many other fitness trackers, Oura’s app does not count actual steps or monitor real distance traveled. Instead, the company tells us it’s a “calorie burn target translated to a walking distance”—essentially, how far you’d have to walk to burn the same amount of net calories.

What are some other similarities and differences?

Oura Ring vs. Fitbit & Other Activity/Sleep Trackers

Ring-Based Fitness & Sleep Wearables

When it comes down to it, there’s really only one product currently competing directly with Oura (i.e. that tracks both activity and sleep).

Priced at $199, the Motiv Ring is a soon-to-be-released wearable that also features a three-axis accelerometer and an optical heart rate monitor to measure active minutes, active heart rate, calories burned, actual distance and steps, activity types, sleep duration, and resting heart rate.

However, Motiv is currently only available for iOS devices and doesn’t appear to provide actionable recommendations like Oura. In other words, it’s just raw data.

Outside of this, you can find smart rings in just about every imaginable design that can help keep you connected to other apps (Ringly), monitor different security features (NFC Ring), and even help keep you safe in emergencies (Nimb).

Third-Party Fitness & Sleep Trackers

Outside of these specific specifications, the sky’s the limit. In other words, you can find hundreds of different activity and fitness trackers from third-party manufacturers, including popular options from Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, Moov, and TomTom.

Of these, Fitbit is perhaps the most well known name in fitness trackers, who makes a line of seven different wrist-based devices, including the Alta. MRSP ranges from $60 to $250.

Because of this wrist placement, Fitbit’s heart rate readings might not be quite as accurate as Oura’s, although consumer feedback seems to indicate that they tend to be fairly close.

Some of Fitbit’s models also track time asleep and time restless and connect to smartphones, although the data they provide seems to be nowhere near as detailed as Oura’s.

You’ll also find useful features like phone (including music) control, GPS tracking, color screens, streaming workouts, and even guided breathing sessions with some of Fitbit’s models.

With other third-party trackers, you’ll encounter options with color screens, like Samsung Gear Fit, those that can measure body fat like Skuplt Aim, mirror-based devices like Naked 3D Fitness Tracker, and bare-bones budget models like Copper Fit Step FX.

To complicate the situation even more, you also have several other sleep-specific trackers/trainers on the market like Thim, ResMed S+, and Sense Smart Alarm.

How Is the Oura Ring Different?

When it comes down to it, Oura isn’t wholly a fitness tracker (it doesn’t actually count steps, calories, or elevation) and it’s not wholly a sleep tracker, so it appears to occupy a unique niche all its own.

Furthermore, Oura really does appear to be the only current option that provides actionable information based on the data it tracks, which is a common concern we’ve frequently voiced when writing about these kinds of products.

And it even takes this data one step further by providing a Readiness Score that promises to help you perform at your best.

Compared to the competition, though, how much will you pay for Oura’s unique benefits?

How Much Does the Oura Ring Cost?

Available in US sizes 6-13 (you will be sent a sizing kit to help you determine which size and finger you prefer), the Oura Ring is priced as follows:

  • Mirror Black and Arctic White - $299
  • Stealth Black (requires an additional level of precision to manufacture) - $499

For these prices, you’ll receive a charger, micro-USB cable, and quick start guide. Additional chargers can be purchased for $59 each.

Comparatively, depending on your specific needs, other smart rings, fitness trackers, and sleep devices are priced as low as $20 and well over $500 in some instances.

Again, the Motiv Ring doesn’t provide all the same functionality as Oura, but since it’s currently the closest competition, it’s important to reiterate that it features a meaningfully lower price of $199.

All Oura Ring purchases come with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H. In order to request one, you’ll need to email support@ouraring.com.

Will you get a lot of accuracy for your money?

How Accurate Are Oura’s Measurements?

Obviously, the suggestions Oura provides are only as accurate as the data they’re based on. From this perspective, can the Ring realistically provide useful recommendations based on only heart rate?

First, from an accuracy standpoint, Oura claims they’ve measured their:

  • Sleep staging algorithms against polysomnography,
  • Interbeat interval (IBI) data against “ECG derived R-R intervals,”
  • Temperature measurement against a professional body temperature logger, and
  • Activity measurements against an indirect calorimeter.

While they didn’t provide any data to support these claims, we’re told, “In all of these, we have either reached or exceeded the expected performance levels.”

In layman’s terms, the company claims Oura’s measurements are as accurate as laboratory methods.

Once these measurements are taken, however, they have to be processed by the algorithm. While it’s understandable that we’re not provided in-depth details about this proprietary algorithm, we’re also not given any insight into what information the algorithm bases its recommendations and coaching on.

In other words, how scientifically accurate is your Readiness Score? Further, has this score been clinically shown to improve a person’s performance throughout the day?

What about the sleep score and recommendations? What kind of sleep science are they based on? Again, have these recommendations been clinically shown to help individuals sleep better?

We reached out to the company for some insight into these fundamental questions, and we'll be sure to update this review as soon as a response is received.

In the meantime, here’s the takeaway: While the Oura Ring appears to provide accurate measurements, there seems to a potential disconnect between these measurements and the real-world benefits they’ll deliver based on recommendations.

What about Oura’s customers? Are they finding that it provides a lot of value and other benefits?

What Are Oura Ring’s Customers Saying in Their Reviews?

The Aura Ring launched via a 2015 Kickstarter campaign, where the wearable earned more than $650K on an original goal of $100K, which appeared to ship mostly on time the following year.

Despite its crowdfunding popularity and the length of time it had been around, though, we didn’t find a whole lot of direct customer feedback at the time of our research.

Professional Feedback

However, fitness trainer Alex Fergus provided a highly in-depth review, finding that Oura accurately tracked sleep and that the coaching provided meaningful data, although it had a short battery life.

As a fitness professional, Alex also wished the Oura Ring provided more raw data that could be used for physical improvement. For someone looking for a generalized fitness tracker, he noted this probably wouldn’t be an issue.

Despite these compliments, Alex noted that he questioned “how reliable and accurate the Oura Readiness measurement” was.

Important note: Another of Alex’s complaints was that you can’t do much with the data provided by Oura, although the company’s FAQ noted that they’ve partnered with We Are Curious to allow you to track and merge data, share and discuss it, and transfer it to your doctor.

To this last point (along with a similarly in-depth review), fitness trainer Ben Greenfield provides a look at how the data provided by Oura can be used to improve health and fitness.

While Tech Radar only had a chance to use the Oura Ring briefly, they noted that “it's not the most comfortable fitness device on the market” and that “it isn't the most beautiful pieces of finger wear I've ever seen.”

What About Oura Ring App Reviews?

Oura’s app had nearly 70 customer reviews and an average rating of 2.9 stars on Google Play at the time of our research, along with nine reviews and a rating of 3.5 stars on iTunes.

Most compliments seemed to reference useful/valuable information and excellent sleep tracking, while common complaints related to the lack of real-time data, limited feedback, and operational bugs (problems opening, crashing, not storing information).

In many of these, the company responded directly in order to help the customer find a resolution.

Who’s Behind the Oura Ring?

Oura was founded by CEO Petteri Lahtela, COO Tommi Pyykkonen, and CTO and Head of Design Kari Kivela. Some of their team even has experience writing algorithms for heart-rate monitor manufacturer Polar.

Before co-founding the company Petteri worked as a business coach and as CEO for Rogua Group, Tommi worked in export sales and marketing, and Kari was CTO of eGen Oy.

Our Final Thoughts About Oura Ring

Whether or not any single product is best for you is highly dependent on your personal preferences, expectations, and whether or not your needs align with Oura’s features.

For example, if you’re primarily interested in tracking, a more fitness-oriented product from Fitbit, Garmin, or one of the dozens of other popular manufacturers might better match your needs—many of which are priced meaningfully lower than Oura.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that tracks sleep and activity and that provides actionable recommendations based on this data, Oura seems to be your only current choice.

But as we noted above, the company doesn’t provide any insight into what professional sources their recommendations are based on, or any clinical evidence to support the claim that their Readiness Score will provide real-world benefits.

Fortunately, if you decide to give Oura Ring a try and it doesn’t meet your expectations, the company seems to stand behind it with a 30-day refund policy.

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4 Customer Reviews for Oura Ring

Average Customer Rating: 2.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 1 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 2 1 star:  1
Bottom Line: 25% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-4 of 4
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  • Doesn't last long

    I've had my Ring for four weeks, and it's already cracked. It worked for a few days after I cracked it, then became sporadic and finally quit working within 24 hours. I cracked the Ring doing burpees. I read several in depth reviews online indicating it was the best tracker for fitness training, including CrossFit. I would strongly discourage using this Ring while doing any such activities.

    It is waterproof, which is why I bought it, now I wished I'd have waited and saved more money for the Apple Watch Series 2 and the Beddit sleep monitor. I will say I do prefer the inactivity monitor over the Stand rings on the Apple Watch but found the stats on the Readiness Screen of the Oura Ring to be useless. There is no way to delete and download the data, and they supposedly work into the algorithm to calculate your readiness for activity, but I was under the impression I'd be able to monitor body temperature better not just of an average. The labels are so small, and the increments are so close together you can't really decipher any details on the data.

    Anyhow, that's my two cents, but you'd have to decide what you really want to use it for. I'm active and use my hands a lot. I don't recommend it for people like me.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Amazing technology. A lot of potential!

    • Colorado,
    • May 17, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    The technology that they've been able to pack into the small ring is incredible - heart rate, heart wavelength, body temperature, motion. It is so much more accurate than any wrist monitor.

    The ring itself is amazing. Where this product is weakest, though, is with the app. Since the product just came out, they have some work to do with the app (it's not even version 1.0 of the app yet). It sounds like they are overhauling it now. Looking forward to seeing what they will do!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Activity and sleep data issues

    • Minnesota,
    • May 7, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was a Kickstarter backer of Oura and had high hopes for it. Now that Oura has shut down their forums, there is no place to provide feedback directly to them. The biggest issue with Oura is that the activity intensity is NOT captured accurately; consequently, the Activity and Readiness scores suffer from "garbage in/garbage out."

    After a recent firmware update, I pulled my Oura out of the box to see if it had improved its activity monitoring. My data over this two week period with ten intense workouts (averaging one hour on an elliptical with average heart rate of 134 and average max heart rate of 161. I'm a 68-year-old male with a calculated max heart rate of 152) were all recorded as "medium" by Oura.

    Walking my dog for 20 minutes was actually rated higher on Oura's activity scale than my elliptical workouts! The Activity and Readiness percent do not appear to bear any correlation to the activities I actually engage in. The Activity percent was actually HIGHER on the four days I did not do my intense workout, and the Readiness percent was unchanged. Go figure. I cannot recommend Oura for anyone whose active workouts are not captured by Oura's accelerometer. It won't capture static activities like bike riding, ellipticals or even yoga. Dog walking it does capture!

    Oura fares better on the sleep measures which I compared to the recent sleep data added to Fitbit. Over the same two week period, Oura averaged five hours 35 minutes of sleep and Fitbit averaged 5:42 (I don't need much sleep).

    The breakdowns by Deep, REM, Light, and Awake time were another matter. Awake time was pretty equal, averaging 47 minutes with Oura to 45 with Fitbit, and Deep sleep time was not too far off at 26 with Oura, and 46 with Fitbit. The REM and Light sleep times were quite disparate; Oura REM at one hour, 55 minutes average, Fitbit at 1:17, Light sleep time was 3:13 with Oura and 3:39 with Fitbit. So the total REM/Light was pretty close between the two devices at 5:08 Oura and 4:57 with Fitbit. So there is clearly a difference in the algorithms used to track the different sleep categories.

    For me, Oura is going back in the box as it simply is a LOUSY activity tracker that gives bad data in its Activity and Readiness measures. And as a Sleep tracker (which was one of the touted features of Oura), it's data is directionally accurate but hard to trust since they don't provide any idea how it is calculated. I will rely on my Fitbit Blaze. It is a cheaper, better activity tracker with sleep data that is similarly directionally accurate.

    It's too bad. Oura is a great concept that simply can't deliver due to its inability to track the most important input to its data; the intensity of your activities.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Ring showed very thin crack, damaged the skin on my finger!

    • California,
    • Apr 22, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Sorry, I don't have another way to inform this company that my Oura Ring seriously damaged the skin on my finger. It's been healing since the end of March and still isn't completely healed. Others should be warned about this. I hope I will get an email from Oura to discuss this issue. It's troubling not to have a way to contact the company.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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