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Oura adds period prediction and heart rate to its next-gen smart ring

Oura adds period prediction and heart rate to its next-gen smart ring


It reflects the company’s focus on health, the CEO says

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Inside of the Oura ring, showing red and green LED lights.

Oura’s Generation 3 smart ring will have a whole new slate of features, including period prediction, blood oxygen monitoring, and real-time heart rate tracking. The new ring will jump from three to seven temperature sensors and add a pulse oxygen sensor, Oura CEO Harpreet Rai told The Verge

A new, green LED light will monitor heart rate throughout the day. Starting at the end of 2021, users will also be able to record their heart rate during exercise and see information about heart rate recovery after a workout is done. 

The upgrades underscore the company’s focus on health, Rai says, particularly the period prediction feature. The new ring will use shifts in temperature and user feedback to predict when a user might get their period up to 30 days in advance. Body temperature changes through the menstrual cycle, rising just before ovulation and falling as mensuration begins.

Rai says period prediction is only the beginning of the company’s interest in menstruation and fertility. “It’s an underinvested area in wearables,” he says. A study conducted in partnership with researchers at the University of California San Diego showed that the Oura ring can use temperature changes to identify pregnancy around nine days before an at-home pregnancy test, though pregnancy prediction is not part of the device at this point. 

There’s already some precedent for the ring to be used in predicting periods. The FDA had already given the digital birth control company Natural Cycles clearance to use the Oura Ring to collect temperature data. Natural Cycles has an algorithm that integrates daily temperature readings and cycle tracking to tell users which days they’re most likely to get pregnant. Initially, users had to take their temperature using a thermometer, but the FDA signed off on the app’s integration with the Oura ring in July.

Oura did not have an active partnership with Natural Cycles, Rai says — Natural Cycles used Oura’s API to access data from the rings. Rai declined to comment on whether Oura was made aware of Natural Cycle’s work with the ring or whether the companies have spoken since the FDA’s clearance. 

A Natural Cycles spokesperson told The Verge that Oura was aware of its use of the ring before Natural Cycles submitted to the FDA, and that Natural Cycles shared the data it had collected with Oura ahead of its submission.

Rai did say that the Natural Cycles integration is a good proof of concept for the device. “It does honestly validate our technology and even the finger as being a really interesting place for some of these features,” Rai says. “That’s good for us and good for the ecosystem.” 

With the new ring, Oura joins devices like the Apple Watch and Withings ScanWatch in offering blood oxygen monitoring. That feature will launch for Oura users in 2022. Oxygen monitoring is appealing to athletes, Rai says, and also has medical implications going forward — like with sleep apnea. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to predict, diagnose, and treat on day one, but over time, does this mean potentially we can start saying, ‘Hey, something’s off, you may want to go see a doctor?’” he says. “I think there’s a way to do that.” It may take a similar form to the company’s approach to illness prediction, which treats changes in temperature or other metrics that are changing in the body as “warning lights” rather than diagnostics, Rai says. 

Oura is also moving to a membership model for its app, priced at $5.99 a month. Users who upgrade from an older ring to the new model will get a discount on the hardware and a free lifetime membership. 

The Generation 3 ring will start shipping November 15th. 

Update 10/26: This post has been updated with information from Natural Cycles.