This ambitious smart ring hopes to one day monitor chronic diseases

The Oura ring is no longer the only smart ring on the block. For CES 2022, health technology company Movano announces the Movano ring, a wearable designed to help people at affordable prices monitor chronic diseases and better understand their data.

The Movano ring will measure all the basic measurements, including heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), sleep, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen levels, steps and calories burned. But instead of a raw data dump, Movano says it will distill how your measurements relate to each other “take a more proactive approach to mitigating the risk of chronic disease.” For example, the Movano app can tell you how your exercise habits affect your sleep pattern or HRV over time.

This is not surprising – more wearable manufacturers are shifting away from steps and calories in favor of simplified results and insights. Oura Ring, Whoop, and Fitbit all use scores to contextualize sleep and recovery data, but focus mostly on telling you whether to push yourself or take it easy on a given day. They are also accompanied by graphs and long descriptions that can be overwhelming at times. Movano says it wants its insights to be more actionable. So far, they have app screenshots that Movano showed The edge does not show anything groundbreaking, but the way the data is presented is more digestible than many trackers out there.

Screenshot of the Movano app that describes how a user's data shows that they sleep better on the days they exercise

Lots of wearables offer similar data, but the way it is presented here is much easier to digest
Photo: Movano

There are a few other things that help the Movano ring stand out. To begin with, the device itself is not ugly and is impressively slim. The emphasis on a slimmer design was a conscious choice, says Movano CEO Dr. John Mastrototaro, as the device was specifically designed for women of all ages. It is remarkable in two ways. First, portable technology has historically favored traditionally masculine styles and sizes. Smart rings like the Oura ring and the now defunct Motif ring have also tended to be on the thicker side. This is mainly because it is difficult to miniaturize sensors with current technology, but a side effect is that they are less suitable for small hands. A really slim and slender smart ring would be the first. Second, only a handful of wearables companies take women first. Some have tried to solve the problem, but there is still a huge gender difference in medical data. (Funny fact: it was not until 1993 that Congress mandated women and minorities to be included in clinical trials.)

But the great thing is that while most portable companies bypass FDA approval issues, Movano is honest about its medical ambitions. According to Mastrototaro, while the first Movano ring will not have FDA approvals, the goal is ultimately to get Class II designation and add medical features like non-invasive glucose monitoring and cuffless blood pressure in a “step-by-step” way over time. To do so, the company conducts clinical trials with its radio frequency-enabled technology and algorithms as well as accuracy studies to obtain FDA approval for pulse, SpO2 and respiratory rate monitoring. Non-invasive glucose monitoring and cuffless blood pressure are holy grails for portable technology – and big names, including Apple and Fitbit, have been rumored to be working on these features for smartwatches. Bringing them to a smart ring would be an impressive achievement.

Three copper Movano Rings stacked on top of each other

It’s miraculously not chunky – a big win for smart rings if this ever hits the market.
Photo: Movano

That said, wearables for consumers who promise medical features often end up in regulatory limbo. Withings ScanWatch made its CES debut in January 2020, but it was not until November 2021 that it obtained the necessary FDA approval to hit the US market. Its Move ECG smartwatch was announced even earlier but has still not received approval. Omron’s HeartGuide blood pressure smartwatch also took several years to clear. This often means that companies end up choosing between making consumer wellness equipment that lacks medical credibility or niche medical equipment that is inaccessible to the average person. Mastrototaro, however, says Movano has a secret trump card: decades of experience in regulation.

“We take the legislative side of things very seriously,” Mastrototaro said The edge. He also pointed to his long history of developing medical devices, including the first continuous glucose monitor, as well as his staff. This experience, says Mastrototaro, gives Movano an advantage in navigating the FDA’s notoriously opaque clearance process.

The Movano ring will only be available in the second half of 2022, and even then it will be a beta version. We also have no concrete details for pricing, although Mastrototaro says the company aims for it to be “one of the most affordable” on the market.

“We aim for both a medical and a consumer focus – the intersection of these two fields as opposed to one or the other. We want to have the look, feel and affordability as a consumer device with the accuracy and reliability of a medical device,” says Mastrototaro What Mastrototaro describes is the holy grail of portable technology, we’ll have to see if the Movano ring ends up being another CES pipedream, but it’s definitely one of the more ambitious versions of smart rings. , which we have seen for a long time.

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