What is a Smart Ring and how exactly does it work?

Smart rings have become the biggest wearable tech trend. But what exactly are they, how do they work, and do you need to buy one? Find out.

| Updated on: Aug 25 2023, 14:56 IST
Smart rings
Know all about smart rings. (Unsplash)
Smart rings
Know all about smart rings. (Unsplash)

In the 90s, the future of technology was assumed to be large machines that could do complicated tasks instantly. And the bigger the task, the larger the machine. But in 2023, we see that technology leans towards a smaller and minimal form factor that does all the tasks but doesn't have to be a distraction when not in use. This is why wearables have come up in a big way. Smartwatches, virtual reality glasses, augmented reality devices, and activity trackers are some of the examples of mainstream wearable products. But there is a new tech product in town — smart ring — that is quickly gaining popularity.

What are smart rings?

Smart rings first came to the foray in 2013 when the British tech firm McLear launched the first such device. These devices, as the name suggests, have a form factor of a traditional ring band and are equipped with advanced motors, chipset, and other relevant components such as NFC, proximity sensors, motion sensors, and more. In effect, these are ring-shaped computers that can do a bunch of tasks wirelessly and connect with your laptop and smartphone.

Smart rings are mainly used as an activity tracker and health monitor, similar to a smartwatch. These are ideal for people who do not just want a device to monitor their well-being and do not care about ecosystem features. It acts as a technology that is meant to work in the background.

However, recently we have seen another use-case for smart rings and that is controlling other smart devices, including a phone and a laptop. These use gesture control to operate different devices in your smart home, pick or reject calls, scroll through a laptop screen, and more.

To break it down further, imagine coming back home and turning on the lights and the fans with one swipe of hands, then turning on the AC and the TV with another gesture, and then signaling the coffee maker to start warming the coffee with another gesture. Then, as the coffee is warming up, you can sit in front of the TV and swipe through content recommendations with just a flick of your finger. All of this can easily be done with some smart rings in the market.

How does a smart ring work?

Smart rings, just like any smart device, are a miniature computer, complete with a processor, motors, sensors, and more. These are all neatly fitted inside a ring. Despite having a small frame, they pack really powerful sensors and processors.

While a smart ring is capable of collecting data using sensors, it needs to sync with a smartphone or a computer to send the data and formulate a report on its basis. You can monitor your running session, workouts, stress levels, sleep and more using its sensors.

But once you connect it with other devices using Bluetooth or NFC, they can also control other devices as explained above. NFC also enables smart rings to make payments through information that's added using a smartphone app.

Some smart rings also come with haptic signals and can vibrate when you get a call or a notification to alert you when the device is not right next to you.

Apple, Samsung to enter the smart ring race?

While smart rings have been here for a while, major tech players such as Apple, and to an extent Samsung, have steered clear of this trend, likely due to it being a very new technology that sometimes struggles with reliable performance.

But 2023/24 might be when we finally see these tech giants enter the smart ring space. A recent report by TechCrunch highlighted that Apple has got a patent approved for a ring that can wirelessly control iPhone and MacBook by rotating the outer band.

A report by SamMobile has revealed that Samsung has secured a trademark of a product called ‘Curio'. The product is registered under the category of ‘Class 9' which contains smart rings. The classification page also links with references to smart rings. Some are now wondering if the first smart ring by Samsung could be called Curio.

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First Published Date: 25 Aug, 14:25 IST