Samsung’s smart ring may signal the beginning of a new wearable era

Samsung’s smart ring may signal the beginning of a new wearable era

Smartwatches have long dominated the world of wearables. Smart Rings have been floating around the perimeter of the phone, but earlier this week, Samsung ended its Unpacked event with a teaser of the Galaxy Ring. To me, this sounds like the company is out to change the global wearable ecosystem.

That may seem like overkill considering all Samsung did was run a flashy reel of shiny ring with a few visible sensors inside the tape. Few details were given on stage. But in an email, Samsung spokesperson Amber River told me that the ring aims to “empower more people to manage their health with a comprehensive, simplified approach to daily health at home.” Part of that is having consistent, accurate tracking data over a long period of time — hence, the smaller form factor. River also noted that the ring will feature “groundbreaking sensor technologies” and that it will be comfortable enough to wear 24/7. Some folks at Unpacked also got to see a prototype, with analyst Avi Greengart noting that it’s light, comes in three shapes and sizes up to 13, and will be available later this year.

It looks very similar to Oura’s ring – and Oura knows it. Shortly after the Galaxy Ring was announced, Oura CEO Tom Hill sent this surprising statement to the edge:

With new features released regularly, Oura has the strongest IP portfolio – in both hardware and software – for the smart ring form factor, with 100 granted patents, 270 pending patent applications, and more than 130 registered trademarks. The entry of new players into the space is a validation of the category and drives us to aim higher to serve our members and community.

Hill is right. a race He is A form of verificationAnd there are a lot of new players that Oura will have to face soon. Last week at CES, I said that 2024 would be the year of the smart ring because I saw more of them on the show floor than I have in years. However, it’s easy to ignore the crowd of small businesses trending in this direction. It’s another thing for a tech heavyweight like Samsung to say that it, too, thinks there’s something to this form factor.

If you think about it, it’s easy to see why. Smart rings are more discreet and more suitable for sleep tracking than smart watches. (Samsung has also spent the past two years beefing up its sleep tracking features.) The underside of your finger is also a more accurate place to track blood oxygen and heart rate. From your wrist. With the growing popularity of smartwatches, I’ve heard from a lot of readers who yearn for simpler trackers no They act as extensions of their phones. Given Apple’s dominance of the smartwatch market, it’s smart for Samsung to try to have a newer form factor with only one major, but still relatively niche, player.

Since there are few details, it’s difficult to say how Samsung thinks about the Galaxy Ring within its large wearable lineup. However, I can see it becoming an accessory for the Galaxy Watch. For example, the Amazfit Helio is a smart ring that can act either as a standalone tracker or as something that can be paired with its existing smartwatches. The idea is that when it’s time for bed, you can put your smartwatch on the charger without worrying about losing sleep tracking. This is natural for Samsung as well, especially since it can easily create a wearable bundle at discounted prices. (It worked well enough for Google when it introduced the Pixel Watch with its Pixel phones.)

This is also one area where It will be difficult for Oura to compete. While the Oura Ring works with other smartwatches, you need a third app like Apple Health or Google Health to bring data from each device together. This means having multiple apps cluttering up your phone. You may not like being locked into an ecosystem, but the convenience of having a Galaxy phone, Galaxy Watch, and Galaxy Ring is the ability to view everything from the Samsung Health app.

You can bet that other major companies will follow if Samsung succeeds. If so, the way we view smart rings may eventually shift from standalone devices to something considered more than just an accessory last Tools. We’ll have to see how it plays out once the Galaxy Ring is available, later this year. But, personally, I’m happy to see some movement in a segment that’s been floundering for far too long.

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