ŌURA, a word which doesn’t really have a meaning in any current language. The word has a meaning in a very old ‘version’ of the current Finnish language where it means hard,stony ground. ŌURA is also a name of a Finnish startup which has their first product, The ŌURA ring, available.
I have been using the ŌURA ring now for a few months, and this is my review of their product.
PSA: I have no broader knowledge of the fitness and health industry so I am not going to very deeply to the health specifics.
ŌURA ring Unboxing & Overview
If you know anything about Finland, you probably know we are heavily interested on product design. Companies like Pentik and ARTEK to name a few, are known all over the world for their designs. ŌURA is no exception to the rule. The Finnish design principles are clearly seen on the packaging which is simple and minimalistic. The package takes a lot of cues from Apples products. The ring is available in three different colors; black, white and matte. The black and white versions cost 329€ and the matte version is a hefty 549€.
The product comes in small white square box. It’s like you would have a bought jewellery to your wife and it kind of is exactly like that. Inside the box you find jewellery inspired box which holds the device. It has clear plastic top and you can see the actual ring (aka the device) right away. The ring box actually is not just a box, as it acts as a charger for the ring too. There is too small metal clips in the cradle and the same can be found from the ring. Connecting these pins charges the device. It takes about an hour to fully charge the device.
There is not much else in the box except a micro-usb cable which connects the ring cradle/charger to your wall output charger/usb-port.
The ring is made of zirconia which is known for it’s hardness against scratches, corrosion and so on. The ring is water resistant up to 50meters and it is also promised to be scratch resistant.
Here are the official technical specifications:
Material: High-tech ceramic (Zirconia) Waterproof (up to 50 m),
Scratchproof (glossy nish)
Available nishes: Mirror Black, Arctic White and Stealth Black
Optical HR measurement
Battery life: 2-3 days
ŌURA doesn’t tell what kind of processing power is powering the ring, but it is pretty safe to say it is probably something ARM based.
ŌURA Features & Usage
When we talk about wearables, people usually connect the word to a fitness band like the Polar Loop, Microsoft Band or a Fitbit. ŌURA does everything differently by producing a fitness / personal health tech and stuffing it to ring. Yeah you read that right, all the tech needed for the features, which we will cover in a bit, are stuffed inside a very smallish ring sized ‘computer’
Wearables usually market themselves as calculating your steps, monitoring your sleep and the newest addition is the heart rate monitoring. Well ŌURA does all that but it also has a lot of proprietary stuff added to it. The ring has two modes, the sleep mode and wake mode and it monitors different things in both. Here is the full list of things the ring monitors.
– duration of activities
– intensity of activities
– time you spend inactive
When you go to sleep, the ŌURA ring analyzes the quality of your rest and recovery by measuring your heart rate continuosly (optically), respiration rate, body temperature, and movement.
PPG: While you sleep, Blood Pulse Volume is measured from the arteries on the palm side of the finger, with infrared LEDs. The little bumps in the ring band are for the infrared LED transmitter and receiver.
Motion: A 3D accelerometer is used to monitor your activity during the day. During the night it is used to identify different stages of sleep.
Temperature: A skin temperature sensor measures your average skin temperature during the night.
So as you can see, at the moment the ring does a lot more stuff when it detects you are sleeping. The interesting bits are that it is the first wearable that actually monitors your respiration rate and body temperature. It also has a 3D accelerometer to monitor your movement while you sleep. This is also used to automatically detect when you go to sleep.
The ŌURA ring uses these physiological data signals to calculate when you are in deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep and when you are awake. It uses this information together with your daytime activity data to assess the degree to which you have recovered from mental and physical challenges and your readiness to perform going forward.
So what else, sounds pretty normal for a wearable? The most interesting thing happens after the data is collected by the ring. The ŌURA team consists of guys that have produced proprietary algorithms for Polar, a well known company in wearable space. These algorithms (not the same ones of course) are used in the rings software to analyse the data collected which is then produced to a readable format to their smartphone app.
ŌURA breaks the rings raw data to three different sections, which are sleep, activity and readiness.
ŌURA gives the ring a 2-3 day battery life and with my usage it has been at the stellar two day mark. Recharging the ring to full takes easily less than 40minutes. I usually just recharge the ring in the morning before going to work for about fifteen to twenty minutes or when I happen to be at my computer where my rings charger also is. With a small ten to fifteen minutes recharge gives you enough juice to get you through your day and the night.
I am going to split this part to two, one for the iOS version and second for the Android app. Why? Well, not really happy to say this but the versions are different, not much (more on that later) but there are few things to take note.
As many times before, when we talk about Multiplatform apps the other version is better. It is also a case here with the ŌURA. When the ring started to ship to Kickstarter backers (me included) there was only an iOS app available. Android one, in a beta stage (it’s still called beta) came a lot later.
So forward with the iOS version. When you launch the app you are greeted with a info to put the ring on to your finger. After you are wearing the ring you can start the pairing process. The ring communicates with your phone via bluetooth like almost every wearable device nowadays. After the pairing is completed you are greeted by the main view.
The main view is kind of an info board or message board. On the top you have a little greeting which changes depending on the time of the day (Good morning, afternoon and evening). A nice little touch but nothing special. You can also set a desirable nickname in the settings to see the ring greet you by your name for example.
You also see the three bars on the top which are the three different sections I mentioned; Sleep, Activity and Readiness. These bars show your progress for the current day. We will dive a little deeper on the sections in a bit. Under the sections you see the message board. This area is filled with info messages about your previous days data. It will for example recommend you to set earlier bedtime if it detects your amount of sleep is low. It will also analyse the data and give you hints when is a good day to do some more activities or suggest that you take it little easier.
The three sections I mentioned earlier are the place where you can actually digg deeper to your data. Every section is constructed the same way with diagram on top and under it the app shows you the contributors from the data. It will also rate your activity/sleep and produce score for it. The sleep section will also show you your resting heart rate as the ring monitors your heart rate constantly when you are sleeping.
Under the contributors the app slices the data to different sections. For example in the activity part it will show your distance you have walked and show you the goal which the app sets based on your data. The ring also detects your inactivity times and will show it as a guy sitting on a chair and top of it shows if you have had hours that you haven’t moved at all. It will also show you your steps and total burned calories in the activity section. For the sleep part the app shows you your total sleep time and timeline for your sleep as a graph. It also shows you the percentage and time you spent in different sleep cycles like REM, Deep, Light and Awake.
The readiness view, which is the last part of the app and is also where all of the other sections data is combined and analysed. The app will then create so called readiness score which shows you how well you have recovered from previous days. It will take in to account your previous night; how well you have slept, and also the activity and intensity from the previous day. Your body temperature is also one of the contributors and also resting heart rate and the balance of your activity.
ŌURA app also has few settings which should be configured. You can configure your sex, height and weight which will be part of the data analysing and will help the app to give you the info messages to the main page. Settings part also includes a section to create your own ŌURA account. The ŌURA account is used for ŌURA cloud sync feature which basically collects the data and syncs it to ŌURAs cloud service for easy device switching without losing data. The cloud sync is at the moment only available to iOS users at the moment so if you decide to switch to an Android phone you will not see your previous data on the app. Also no support to sync with Apples Healt app is available at the moment. The company has said it is investigating the possibility to allow syncing to Apples Health platform in the future.
There is not much to tell you about the Android version of the app that wasn’t told in the iOS section. When I am writing this the Android app has just received it’s newest update which brings the app features almost on par with the iOS version. Previously only thing you could do with the Android app was sync your rings data and even then you could only see the Sleep and Activity data. Readiness info came one version ago. The newest update adds the main view to the app with the info board.
It is sad to say the ŌURA cloud feature is still not available on Android so at the moment no data will sync to other devices. I am still waiting for a timeline for the ŌURA cloud for Android so I could see all the data that my iPhone has collected in these past few months. The app also doesn’t sync your data to Googles Fit app, so the data is only available thrue their own app.
This feature omission also paints the dark picture considering Android users. It is really shame to see that the Android app is still kind of barebone version of the iOS client. It’s much better now with the newest update but the timeline for feature parity is up in the air. Also the companys reasoning behind the lacking features are also something that doesn’t sit well with me. The basic “fragmentation of android” and “multitude of devices” for almost any question regarding the apps future and status are already pouring out of my ears.
I also wear my Microsoft Band 2 every day and I have checked the data and compared them to data that the ring provides. I am happy to say that mostly the data is pretty much exactly the same on both devices. There are some differences in step counting but the differences are so small that that is propably just because they count steps little differently.
For me the most important data is my sleep. And in my opinion ŌURA is the clear winner here. I am not saying that the Band 2 won’t gve you the exact same data, as it does but the way the ŌURA app presents the data is so much better. In a one glance you can see your different sleep stages and percantage and time how long you have spent in each. With the Band2 these are not shown se clearly and the presentation is little bit different.
So does ŌURA give you a product they market? Definately. Is it something new? Yes and no. No, in a sense that the market is full of wearables that do the almost the same thing. The Yes part is the more interesting. It is actually pretty nice to see something new pop up to already crowded wearable market. First the design is actually, atleast to my eyes, superb. The ring is not too bulky but it is clearly noticeably when you wear it. The thing the hit me the most is the technical side and how ŌURA has been able to stuff all the needed electronics and sensor to package this small.
The only gripes I have are with the apps and how they treat their apps. As I said in the app portition of the review the Android app is lagging in features compared to the iOS counterpart. The ring has been out almost 6 months and the android app got to a usable point day ago. In the meanwhile the iOS app has been getting the features and the much needed ŌURA cloud sync already.
Can I recommend this product? Hell yes I can. It’s definately you don’t see every day and it brings something new to the market. Only thing that keeps most of the people on the fence, is the price. The retail price is 329€ for the glossy black and white versions, and if you want the matte version add few hundred euros more. These are hefty prices considering the competition like fitbits etc cost half of that. If you could get this with the Kickstarter price which was 199e this would be totally different story. With these prices you would expect to get fully working apps on both platforms.
I am still happy with my decision to get this from the Kickstarter campaign, but I would really think three times getting this thing with the price they are asking in retail.