The Oura ring measures your health from your finger

I’m not a ring guy but lately I’ve been wearing a massive granite-colored ring that looks like something Sauron would have slipped on to mess with the Hobbits. Why? Because it’s also one of the best health trackers I’ve ever worn.

Nerd jewelry like Fitbits and Garmin devices are everywhere and the Apple Watch, once considered a poor replacement for a Timex Ironman, has become the gold standard of fitness devices. But all of these wrist-worn devices have one detriment: they are ugly.

Enter the Oura ring. This is the first piece of tech jewelry that I would actually wear and, what’s more, it really works.

The ring lasts about 10 days on a single charge and measures your heart rate, your steps, and your body temperature. This makes it ideal of passive measurement of your corpus, allowing for a highly nuanced look at your health and sleep patterns.

The ring is completely silent and the heart rate monitor is invisible. The only way you know it’s a tech object is by removing it and observing the three little bumps on the bottom. Any sufficiently advanced technology, wrote the Bard, is indistinguishable from magic. The Oura is magic.

The real value comes from the ring’s inconspicuous nature. While it doesn’t beep at you to stand up or walk – the companion app does that and does it well – its constant presence reminds you that you are being watched and judged. This means you’ll be paying extra attention to bed times and to walking jaunts, something that Fitbits and the like often failed to do for me. After all, if you’re already down 5,000 steps according to the glowing thing on your wrist why not just take the L?

The Oura is $299 – expensive for a fitness tracker but definitely not too expensive for a fitness tracker stuck inside a ring. True quants should probably avoid this thing simply because it doesn’t supply information on the fly. The app is the hub that holds all of your info and the ring simply gathers it. That said, the app is very good, giving you a sleep score between 0 and 100 that suggests whether or not you’ll be ready for the day and an activity score that tells you how much you got up and out. It occasionally sends you reminders to stand up and walk around a bit, which are definitely helpful.

I’d love all fitness devices to be as unobtrusive and usable as this clever little ring. While won’t tick all the boxes for a competitive runner, for example, it does make for a far more interesting solution for the average person who wants a little more feedback on her daily slog. And the fact that it doesn’t look like something out of Star Trek is a definite plus. I look forward to a day when all health devices look as cool and clean as this one. Given the tendency towards clunky smart watches that look like robot fewmits, I think I’ll be waiting for a while.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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