Last updated on November 23rd, 2020 at 05:52 pm
When it comes to motivation to stay fit, we’ve come along way from Jane Fonda workout videos. Smartphones now track our steps and calories burned, but who wants to lug their phone on a run? Thus portability and the quantified-self movement have spawned an ecosystem of wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit that help millions of fitness buffs record nutritional information, activity data, body temperature, blood pressure, glucose levels, and lot more. We’re pretty excited about two of the new players in the smart ring space, Motiv and Oura – let’s dig in and see if either is a good fit your workouts and lifestyle.
What exactly is a smart ring?
Aside from watches, smart wearables haven’t quite taken off. Not yet at least. Enter the smart ring: a stylishly minimal band with built-in biometric sensors that pulls data directly from your fingers. They track your sleep patterns, heart rate, body temperature and fitness activities, while freeing up your wrist for an analog watch, bracelet, or something more…nude.
As a late entrant to the market, smart rings play nicely with existing fitness trackers, allowing you to import workout and biometric data from other apps. Thus they are still quite useful even if you already own a smart fitness-tracking device. They can help you augment the health data you already collect, filling in any gaps, say, when you’re asleep, at the gym, on a device-free yoga retreat, you get the idea.
Smart rings are true feats of engineering with flexible circuit boards, curved batteries, micro accelerometers, and a heart rate monitor among other sensors, all packed into a lightweight loop. For those who question the accuracy of wearables in general? Well, smart rings offer yet another dataset to validate.
What are the best smart ring brands on the market?
Motiv and Oura – the two current leaders
The two leading makers of smart rings right now are Motiv and Oura. Both offer a waterproof band of titanium that weighs less than a conventional wedding ring. Both sync health and fitness data to your mobile device via Bluetooth and claim to provide the most accurate readouts. But how exactly do they differ, and what do they cost? In this deep dive, we compare Motiv vs Oura to help you decide which (smart) ring rules them all.
It’s a pretty exciting moment for wearable technology. Read on to find out which is the “smartest” smart ring, and which one we think has the biggest bang for the buck.
Bonus sleep-enhancing tech:
If you are investigating wearables because you want better sleep, you should consider a second generation product that is 100% focused on helping you get better zzz’s: the Dreem 2 headband.
No, it’s not a smart ring, but it’s still a serious piece of technology that’s FDA-registered as a Class II medical device, offering a variety of sensors to help you monitor your sleep. Believe it or not, it has 6 EEG sensors to measure brain activity, a oximeter to measure your heart rate and an accelerometer to measure how you move and breath while asleep.
All that data feeds into an app that not only provides sleep analysis, but offers customized sleep coaching (including specialized audio programs) to help you get better sleep. If sleep is what you are after, it’s worth checking out the Dreem 2, which is already popular in Europe, but just launched here in the US.
What are some of the biggest Oura alternatives?
Since we originally compared Oura and Motiv, there have been a number of “smart” tracker devices launched. Some of the best competition to Oura includes:
- Amazon Echo Loop – that’s right, Amazon is launching a smart ring with – you guessed it – Alexa in it. Unlike the Alexa on your kitchen counter, you push a button to activate the Echo Loop. And it’s the only competitor to Oura that has a speaker built in, so it can talk back to you. It doesn’t seem like the Echo Loop will come with fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, etc. It’s really for you to talk to your Alexa.
- Apple Watch – Apple hasn’t launched a ring yet, but there are rumors that they will do so. Regardless, the Apple Watch is a tremendous fitness tracking device that works great if you have an iPhone. Track your steps, heart rate, sleep, etc. However, the batter life hasn’t been strong enough for our friends who use it to track their sleep – they need that time to charge the battery.
- DREEM 2 – The DREEM 2 is a smart headband for better sleep. This isn’t a fitness tracker – you only wear it in bed, but it does have some very cool features to help you monitor and get more sleep, like brain activity reporting, heart rate an oxygen saturation, and some cool reports on your sleep quality.
- Fitbit – Fitbit doesn’t hav a ring, but they offer competitive smart watches and smart bands. You can monitory your steps, other exercises, heart rate and sleep patterns.
- Whoop – The Whoop Strap is a cool alternative to a Oura. Obviously it’s a strap, but for fitness tracking it’s a great alternative. It monitors heart rate, calories burned, sleep and more. With our special referral code (click here) you save $30.
Motiv vs. Oura: Which is smarter?
Motiv and Oura rings offer similar fitness tracking capabilities. Both come paired with a sleek mobile app where your data is stored and displayed. Whether you’ve used a fitness tracker before or not, the user experience on both are both intuitive. Baseline heart rates, body temperature, sleeping trends and activity goals are all there. Both rings are compatible with iOS and Android devices, so your decision won’t hinge on your phone’s operating system. Before diving into a full head-to-head feature comparison, let’s focus more on the metrics for a sec. After all, it’s the personal fitness data that most consumers are after.
What exactly can Motiv and Oura rings help you track?
Here’s a chart to help you visualize what metrics you’ll be able to syphon from your digits.
While both are impressive, the dataset collected from your finger isn’t much different than that of a FitBit or Apple Watch. And when compared head to head, the digital readouts of Oura and Motiv are very similar as well. Broadly speaking, both track sleep, heart rate and fitness activity. Oura does a better job of reminding you to stand up every so often and take time to recover from a workout, but as you’ll see, it comes with a heftier price tag. Here’s the skinny on pricing and other key features you should consider.
How much do smart rings cost?
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$200 to $1,000 ain’t cheap, but both Motiv and Oura have a lot to offer. They pack a ton of functionality into a small piece of metal, with only small differences in functionality. Those who don’t mind spending a bit more for the convenience of charging and syncing less frequently may be drawn to Oura, while those who are a bit more cost and security conscious might opt for Motiv. But as with any piece of jewelry — smart or dumb– aesthetics are important. Let’s dive deeper to determine if either smart ring is something you’d wear in public.
In my opinion, Motiv ring boasts the perfect combination of form and function. The ring is sleek and understated, of silver, black or rose gold titanium. It comes in 7 different sizes and is $199.99, regardless which finish you choose. The battery lasts 3-days without charge and comes with a stylish dock that fully replenishes power in just under 90 minutes. Ready to sync data to your phone wirelessly? Simply twist the ring around your finger a few times. This is clever, since many do said gesture instinctively. You’ll want to at least once every three days to free up its built-in memory to collect more data.
As we mentioned earlier, Motiv takes your personal data security very seriously. It understands fitness trackers are just another opportunity for hackers looking to mine sensitive information, and takes ample precaution. Thus they built a 2-step verification process and passwordless login system for your protection. iOS users can verify their identity via facial recognition or fingerprint, while such technology will be rolled out to Android users very soon.
Motiv also makes ordering a breeze. If you’re like me and don’t know your ring size, they’ll send you a fitting kit in the mail for free. When you’re ready to pull the trigger, you can purchase from amazon or head to BestBuy to pick up your smart ring in person. Simple from start to finish. So how does Oura compare?
When it comes to design, Oura ring — NOT to be confused with onion rings — has a bit more flare than the Motiv cylinder, which can be good or bad depending on your style. Oura offers two different ring shapes: one with a slightly flattened side (called “heritage”) that’s supposed to symbolize a compass showing the way. The other has a slightly raised ridge (called “balance”) meant to symbolize balance between load and recovery. Both designs come in silver, black, stealth (i.e. matte) or balance diamond (i.e. with a row of tiny diamonds across the ridge).
The ordering process goes something like this. First you choose a design (2 options), then your finish (4 options), then your size (8 options). It’ll set you back anywhere from $299 for a more basic option to $999 for the diamond-studded (“I’m a world champion!” or potentially “Marry me?”) version. Expect your ring in the mail within 4-6 weeks.
The Oura ring’s battery lasts 7-days, and the data can be stored locally on the device for up to 6 whole weeks before it needs to be synced with the app. Rather than simply providing metrics and trends (although it does that well too), Oura emphasizes sleep, readiness and activity scores to help you improve sleep and recovery from mental and physical strain. Since their first version, they’ve added a gyroscope for enhanced activity tracking.
What are consumers saying about Oura and Motiv rings?
In general, fitness buffs and gym rats alike appreciate how their smart ring unshackles them from fitbits and other wrist-worn devices while working out:
This person loves their Motiv ring, and only wishes more people had it so she could better take advantage of social features:
This Oura ring customer is also really happy and believes the higher price point is justified:
But as with all fitness trackers, there’s some confusion about how to effectively act on the fitness data:
Motiv vs Oura: The verdict
Sleep like a log, work like a boss, and train like a champ. Being ready for what’s in store is vital to making it happen. Wearable rings are the newest health tracking devices to help you get rested and achieve goals that improve your performance when it counts. Finding baseline sleep quality measurements, vital statistics like heart rate, body temperature and blood volume can help you learn how far you have come when you track your activity progress toward meeting your goals down the road.
One caveat: don’t necessarily expect your heart rate (or any fitness metrics from smart rings for that matter) to be 100% real-time. Some smart ring bearers have been disappointed by delayed stats, so just know ahead of time this is the case.
Ultimately you want to find the smart ring that fits your aesthetic style, covers the activity tuning you want to track, works with your budget, and provides the right level of data security level that gives you comfort. Motiv seems ideal for anyone who wants to dip their toe (or thumb or pinkie?) into the smart ring market. Its functionality is slightly less robust than Oura’s, but the <$200 price point, simple purchasing process, minimal aesthetic, and emphasis on security are all quite appealing. If you’re ready to go all in on smart rings, especially ones with flashy diamonds or that focus more on improving sleep patterns, Oura is the way to go.
Ultimately the wearable ring fitness tracker is a sleek accessory with hidden powers to motivate you and bring you closer to your fitness goals. With a 30-45 refund policy, you might just want to give one a try!
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Our final recommendation for insomniacs
Obviously the smart rings are great for people who want to improve their workouts and track their daily lives, but if sleep is the real reason you are thinking of getting a wearable, we strongly think you should check out the Dreem 2.
The Dreem 2 is for monitoring your sleep, analyzing and producing actionable sleep reports and then giving you personalized sleep coaching programs to help you sleep better. It’s not going to help you at the gym (other than you might be better rested), but for those who need better rest, it’s probably the best choice. Visit their website to learn more.