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Earlier this week Oura announced their new Oura Ring 3, both an upgrade in hardware as well as a shift in business models. For those not familiar, the Oura Ring aims to track your daily activity, as well as nightly sleep. And then based on that, will give you a readiness score each day. It does this using small sensors on the inside of the ring band, inclusive of heart rate tracking.
The new Gen 3 version adds in SpO2 sensing, period prediction, workout tracking, and daytime heart rate tracking, using both new sensors as well as new software features.
However, the V3 version also changes Oura’s business model a bit. Previously you’d buy the ring and get the software platform for free. Now, however, you have to both buy the ring as well as pay $6/month for their subscription service. Existing Oura Gen 2 owners don’t need to subscribe to see their existing stats/features, but they won’t get any new features going forward – those will be reserved for Gen 3 ring owners and more specifically, subscribers. We’ll talk more about that later.
Now, I’ll preface this isn’t a review. As regular readers know, reviews have the word ‘review’ in the title, and more specifically also tend to have longer periods of data collection – especially for a device like this that really needs more data for trending. Plus, Oura has an embargo on things titled ‘review’ until Nov 15th. Though, there are no limitations/embargos on what I can discuss (I’d never agree to that). Point being, circle back sometime down the road. This is a media loaner from Oura, but it’ll go back to them down the road. As usual, I don’t take any money/etc from any companies I review – just the way I roll.
With that, let’s dive into it.
The new Gen 3 unit changes physically to include new sensors, as well as additional platform changes that are more software-focused features. Together, both require a subscription now for Gen 3 devices. Starting with the hardware side, there’s the following changes:
– Adding of SpO2 (Blood Oxygen) tracking (coming in 2022)
– Added daytime/semi-real-time heart rate tracking
– Adding workout heart rate tracking (coming later 2021)
– Significant increase in LEDs: From just infrared LED to green, red & infrared LEDs. Green for workout, red for SpO2, infrared for night tracking
– Changed temperature sensor system for higher accuracy
– Increased internal memory from 0.5MB to 16MB
– Ring size stays the same as Gen 2, but is 67% smaller than Gen 1
– Battery life claims at 7 days
– Water-resistance claim at 100m, including saunas and ice baths
Meanwhile, on the software/platform side, you’ve got:
– Adding some 50 videos “science-backed videos” on understanding all this data (coming later 2021)
– Added period prediction
– “Improved” sleep stages algorithm (coming in 2022)
Now as you can see, this is clearly a case of Oura launching a product now with the sensors it needs to add the promised features later. This seems to be the pattern du jour lately, with Fitbit doing the same thing on products both this year and last year. An example here being the SpO2 tracking – whereby those Red LED’s are in the ring today, but won’t be enabled till 2022, where they’ll start providing blood oxygen tracking.
The first thing to know about the new ring is that the sizing has changed slightly for it, and thus, there’s a new sizing kit. That’s because, unlike a watch or wristband that’s adjustable, the ring needs to be very specifically sized to your finger. The sizing kit is simply a collection of dummy rings without any tech in them. Just plastic molds:
In my case, I went with a size 10. I think in all actuality I’m probably halfway in between this size and the next smallest size, but the next smallest size was simply far too tight. Meanwhile, this size is good, and won’t easily slide off my finger. But I could see perhaps being about 1mm smaller for slightly better fit, accuracy-wise. But ultimately, that’s the trickiness to this specific form factor, sorta like some of the shoe insole-based running technologies that are specific to a certain shoe size.
In any case, here’s the ring, and the box it came in:
Inside the box there’s a small charging platform. You simply drop it on there, and it charges. It only aligns in one direction.
The company says it charges to full in “20 to 80 minutes”. I haven’t done a full re-charge yet, because I was too impatient. Instead, I got it up to around 65% or so, and stuck it on my finger. I’m now about 72 hours later, and it’s down to 16%. So that puts it on track for about 6ish days, roughly in line with their estimates of 7 days. In my case that’s inclusive of two workouts as well as a boatload (many hours) of pool/water time, which may or may not impact battery life.
I’ll likely charge the ring here shortly during some more desk time later today.
Here’s some shots of the ring itself, non-action style:
In terms of wearing it, there’s a flat part on the ring, that goes towards the sky, and thus, the three sensor bumps go on your ‘palm’ side.
From a wearability standpoint, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve long resisted testing an Oura ring because frankly, I’m not a big ring person in general. I wear my (very thin) wedding ring during the day, but not usually during workouts (mainly because I’m afraid it’ll somehow fall off). But, transitioning to this ring hasn’t really been any adjustment. Though, my wife and Dad actually noticed immediately.
There’s a bunch of different colors/styles, but in my case I just kept it simple – and actually purposefully choose a ring color opposite my wedding ring, just for keeping it obvious which one I had on. The specific model shown in this post that I’m wearing is the ‘Heritage Stealth’.
Otherwise, there’s nothing to interact with on the ring itself. There’s no display, vibrations, sounds, etc… from it. It just sits there and quietly does its thing, transmitting the data back to your phone via Bluetooth Smart.
So with that, let’s dive into the platform a bit – including what’s new. First up we’ve got the main dashboard showing your day. You can see here it says I’ve burned 905 calories of my (default) 650 calorie goal, which I did via a ~40 min run this morning. You’ll see both my activity score and inactive time. Most of the rest of the morning I’ve spent at my computer.
Looking above still, you’ll see my heart rate plot for the day. It shows a plot since midnight, and that spike there is my run. It also shows a ‘realtime’ heart rate, but it’s not super real-time. It’s only on-demand, or occasionally updating. So if I tap the heart icon, it’ll measure my heart rate and come back with a new value, which is live for about 3 seconds. Additionally, I can tap the chart and see more data from today or previous days:
Below is my workout from this morning. It automatically recognized this after I got back, and asked me to confirm it:
Following the run it seemed to trip something that newly asked me for my location information, enabling it to track my workout. My previous run two days ago didn’t trigger this. So perhaps this is parts of the system coming online for workout tracking later in the year.
You can see my workout intensity levels at the bottom, but you won’t see any specific BPM levels (yet).
According to Oura, that’s coming. Here’s some shots from their PR pack showing the manual recording:
I’d note that the above demo/PR/marketing workout appears *highly* smoothed for heart rate data. Which I suspect may be tied to the accuracy of their sensors during workouts/high intensity. For example, a few times during my run both today and two days ago, I triggered the real-time HR from the app (while running), and it showed a fairly incorrect value (80bpm, versus my actual HR as measured on three other devices at ~171bpm).
Of course, I’ve also been around this industry long enough to know that most companies will *increase* power to their optical HR sensors during an actual workout (versus 24×7 monitoring), which in turn dramatically increases accuracy. Thus since the workout mode doesn’t appear to be live yet, it’s likely that type of logic isn’t happening yet. And thus, the current values aren’t tuned to that. It’s also possible it’s trying to use the infrared LED’s here, as they note they use the green ones during the new workout mode (using the infrared to attempt to track a workout wouldn’t go over well). However, I am able to see the green LEDs in other daytime settings. In any case, I wouldn’t judge anything yet until the feature rolls out.
Anyways, back on the main dashboard page there’s your Readiness score, which aims to tell you how ‘recharged’ you are, and is based on numerous factors including your resting heart rate, body temp, sleep, previous days activity, and the intensity of those activities. As well as how balanced those metrics are relative to your baseline. You can see all this within the ‘Readiness’ tab as well:
The last set of data is the sleep metrics, from the sleep tab. These metrics are pretty normal for the most part, but do include full night HRV tracking, full night heart rate tracking, and sleep phase tracking.
In my case, it nailed the fall asleep/wake-up times correctly. Though you can edit them if need be.
Now, in my full review, I’ll detail much longer comparative stats, but here’s a few quick comparisons for you, from last night. The two watches were worn on my wrist, while the Whoop was worn on a bicep band. The ring was worn on my finger.
Actual feeling: Pretty good actually, I’d give myself a 70-75% score.
Apple Watch Series 7: 42% (using Athlytic App)
Garmin FR745: 65% (Body Battery score at wake-up)
Oura Gen 3: 89% (Readiness Score)
Whoop V3: 53% (Recovery Score)
HRV Values (at sleep, average):
Apple Watch Series 7: 53ms (using Athlytic App with SDNN)
Garmin FR745: N/A
Oura Gen 3: 44ms (RMSSD)
Whoop V3: 44ms (RMSSD)
Respiratory Rate (at sleep, average):
Apple Watch Series 7: 14.4/min
Garmin FR745: 14/min
Oura Gen 3: 13.9/min
Whoop V3: 14.2/min
Actual/reference: Roughly 11:45ish to 8:10ish
Apple Watch Series 7: 11:46PM to 8:16AM (8hr 22mins)
Garmin FR745: 12:01AM to 8:11AM (7hr 49mins)
Oura Gen 3: 11:44PM to 8:13AM (7hr 27mins)
Whoop V3: 11:44PM to 8:11AM (7hr 42mins)
For the sleep times above, I’m showing the sleep times listed for each device, as well as the ‘asleep’ time from each device (each device then decides which portions of my night were ‘awake’, including getting up and telling my kids to go back to bed at 6:15AM and such).
And yes, I’ll definitely do a Whoop 4 vs Oura Gen 3 comparison at some point after it starts shipping. They’re flying to meet with me tomorrow morning, so I’ll finally get to start digging into that data set then.
Lastly, since I’m not female, I’m unable to cover the period prediction feature. However, Oura says that they’re using the changes in body temperature to predict your period, including predicting your next period 30 days out, as well as alerting you 6 days out from the start. Here’s what it should show:
They say they do not require a consistent cycle to track this, but can track variable duration cycles.
The New Subscription:
Perhaps the biggest change here is the shift to a subscription model. Previously with Oura, there was no subscription cost – you just bought the ring, and then the platform was available. Akin to how it works on Garmin, Polar, Apple, Suunto, COROS, and others. But with the Gen 3 ring, they’ve added a required subscription cost, which makes it sorta a halfway blend of what Fitbit and Whoop are doing. Whoop requires a subscription, while Fitbit does not. Instead, Fitbit only requires it for more advanced features (including the upcoming Readiness Score, which is similar to the other platforms’ readiness scores).
The new subscription cost is $5.99/month, however, the ring purchase (which is $299) includes 6 months of free membership before you have to start paying. Though technically speaking you can skip getting a membership, but then you only see “three daily Oura Scores (Readiness, Sleep, Activity)”. This is a little bit fuzzy though, as in, do you still see the details under the scores?
Oura says Gen 2 ring folks won’t need to pay the subscription as long as they stick with their Gen 2 rings. However, once upgraded to Gen 3, then they’ll start paying.
Now, where things get fuzzy is that Oura appears to be offering a $50 discount for existing owners + the ability to buy a lifetime subscription to the platform included. But only if those folks pre-order prior to Nov 15th, 2021.
However, none of these seems well documented – nor consistent. You have to piece it together from various Reddit threads. I’ve never quite seen something as confusing as this, for something that should be super simple (even if the simplicity isn’t what existing users want to hear).
Ok, so there ya go – a quick look at things after some 72 hours (literally, to the minute as I write this last paragraph). As noted this isn’t a full review. Mostly because I just don’t have enough data yet to back any meaningful conclusions. But also because there’s still some (most?) of the new features that aren’t even lit up yet. Though I don’t plan to wait for all those new features. As I often note – with a device for sale and shipping soon, that’s the bed that companies make for their reviews. So if they don’t have key features ready at time of shipment, that can’t be blamed on the consumer – nor does a company get a pass. Those missing features have to be balanced with the reality that not all companies hit timelines of promised features.
Still, putting that aside, I’d say the wearability factor of this impresses me more than I thought. I just don’t have to think about it. And the battery life seems to be on target for almost getting me through the week. The platform is easy enough to understand, and as I get more data into it, it’ll be interesting to see if some of the recommendations align more closely to my expectations (such as around readiness/recovery).
Ultimately, Oura is basically bridging the divide with two sets of customers for the Gen 3 ring. The first set is existing users, a chunk of which are moderately annoyed at the company (rightfully or wrongly doesn’t really matter, that’s the state). And then the second set of users is people like myself – who don’t have a previous ring and thus that’s all water under the bridge. Finding a balance between those two groups is often tricky, and has perplexed many a company for many years.
In any event, feel free to drop any questions or specific things you want me to try below – and I’ll try to dig through them.
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