It’s eight years since Samsung patented a proposed smart ring but a giveaway clue suggests a launch of a revamped version is imminent.
The giveaway clue is a one-line entry in a Beta version of the Samsung Health app which lists “Ring Support” among health attributes covered by the app.
Samsung’s original concept of a smart ring was more of a controller device for the smart home.
Samsung’s patent in 2015 was for a ring accessory “that could be used to control certain functionality on future smartphones, tablets or any kind of smart TV,” says Patently Mobile. “Samsung’s smart ring could also be used in conjunction with a future home automation system,” it said.
It now seems health monitoring may be the predominant aim with a more recent 2022 patent pointing in that direction.
Smart rings are likely to offer features that are currently available on smart watches and other wearables, but in an extremely compact form.
In February 2023, wearable devices publication Wareable reported that the Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service had granted a Galaxy Ring trademark classification describing the ring as a “smart device for measuring health indicators and/or sleep in the form of a ring”.
Possible health indicators include heart rate measurements, temperature and an electrocardiogram. We don’t know whether the earlier touted smart home control features remain.
Apple filed a patent for its version of a smart ring in 2019 which included buttons, a speaker and even a tiny touchscreen device that we are yet to see, while Amazon’s very basic Echo Loop that summons Alexa came to market in 2020.
Nevertheless the wish lists of features for smart rings in around 2019 are more likely to eventuate with technological advances over the past few years.
The existing Oura 3 ring is probably the best indicator of what a modern smart ring can achieve. It offers health tracking such as monitoring readiness – a score of how your body feels, sleep monitoring – including sleep stages and blood oxygen levels, and tracks movement, steps, and heart rate.
Oura claims its ring offers accurate measurements as they are taken from the palm side of a finger where the pulse is strongest. Oura Ring Gen3 costs from $US299.
The coming Galaxy Watch 6 series is tipped to be announced on July 26 at Samsung’s Unpacked Event and would offer the company an early opportunity to unveil a Galaxy Ring.