While most of us have smartwatches or trackers wrapped around our wrists to monitor stats such as daily steps and heart rate, smart rings offer a convenient and lightweight alternative – and it looks as though we might soon have a new product in the category.
A Samsung patent for a smart ring-style device has been reported on the Naver forum in South Korea (via Notebookcheck), and the thinking is that the device could offer a suite of features similar to those available on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.
The usual caveats with patent applications apply: these only indicate the research and development projects happening inside a company, and don't guarantee the appearance of an actual device. However, it seems Samsung is at least exploring its options when it comes to smart rings.
One ring to rule them all
At the moment, the biggest name in the smart ring game is Oura, with the third-generation Oura smart ring offering features such as 24/7 heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and even some mindfulness exercises. It retails for $299, which at the time of writing works out at about £265 / AU$470.
According to those in the know, Samsung is planning to squeeze an optical heart rate monitor and ECG capabilities into the smart ring. An ECG (electrocardiogram) reading looks for irregularities in heartbeat rhythms.
It doesn't sound as though the device is going to be appearing any time soon, if indeed it makes it to the consumer market at all – but the signs are that Samsung is planning on expanding its Galaxy range of devices even further.
Analysis: smart ring vs smartwatch
If you've not come across the idea of a smart ring before, it may seem a bit of an oddity. However, these wearables can beat smartwatches in several areas, not least battery life – the Oura ring can last for a whole week between charges.
A ring is also a more discreet device compared with smartwatches or even more basic fitness trackers that are worn around the wrist. If you engage in intense sports and workouts then you might find you prefer the more lightweight and fixed feel of a smart ring compared to the alternatives.
When it comes to sleep monitoring, again the more unobtrusive the device the better. Many of us are already used to wearing rings – whether for engagements, marriages or just decoration – and so a smart ring isn't all that much more to wear (though we'd be surprised if anyone proposed using one).
Samsung is clearly going to do its research before it decides to launch a smart ring, and it's not the only company looking to fill the niche in the market: Fitbit is also said to be working on a smart ring, while a variety of other options are also appearing.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.