The Ōura ring was first unveiled as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2015, and it has since emerged as one of the leading biometric trackers for sleep and recovery. While we’ve always extolled the value of quality sleep as an essential ingredient in good cognition, knowing how well you’re sleeping isn’t always easy. Hours logged in bed don’t always (or even often) correlate strongly with sleep quality.
That’s one of the many problems Ōura is attempting to solve: Giving better visibility into how our rest and recovery are balancing off against the activity of our days. (And yes, they’ve got an app for that.)
After six weeks of hands-on testing with the ring (pun intended), I interviewed Petteri Lahtela, co-founder and CEO of Ōura to talk about both personal data-tracking and large scale data-mining.
How does the Ōura work?
Ōura measures the pulse waveform and tracks the exact time between heartbeats — also known as your inter-beat interval (IBI) or heart rate variability (HRV) — and your respiratory rate. This allows the determination of sleep stages including REM, Deep and Light sleep. And also moments of “wakefulness” in the night that you might not remember or even be aware of.
“If you haven’t recovered enough then it gives you lower activity targets for the next day.”
Lahtela describes the Ōura as a device that provides a daily target for your activity level based on how well you’ve recovered during the previous night(s). The goal is to help build a long-term balance between “daily load” and recovery.
The Ōura ring comes with a companion app that provides the entire “interface” to the device. As you might imagine, the ring itself “does” nothing — it just passively monitors your body.
Ōura’s app is undergoing continuous development, and in the weeks since I’ve had the device, I’ve noticed minor tweaks and upgrades, with the programmers opening new windows into the data. Research groups working with Ōura have access to a full API and the greater set of “raw data” captured by the device.
Lahtela describes an upcoming upgrade that will use the body-temperature data to even show women where they are in the menstrual cycles based on daily temperature fluctuations. A ring that functions as a rhythm-based birth-control device? It might not be far off.
Want an ŌURA of your own? Use the code SDS to get 10% off the retail price at OuraRing.com.