Will health monitoring with finger rings become more popular than wrist worn devices? One company hopes the answer is yes!
Personal health monitoring devices continue to grow smaller. Now there is a company selling a smart ring that fits on an individual’s finger. Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists may find this an interesting development, particularly because it shows progress in miniaturizing diagnostic capabilities and putting them into ever-smaller devices.
At the same time, health monitoring devices are becoming increasingly popular with consumers who want to track their overall health and certain medical conditions. However, devices currently on the market generally attach at the wrist like the Apple Watch and Fitbit.
Introduced by Movano, Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif., at the 2022 CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas, the Movano Ring tracks “sleep, heart rate variability, body temperature, and more,” according to the company’s website. Whether clinical laboratories will be involved with this data remains to be seen.
Primarily targeted at women, the Movano Ring offers “superior health-tracking technology and the convenient form,” according to Digital Trends.
The new smart ring device is expected to be released in beta form later this year. It is similar to the Oura Ring, which was launched in 2017 by OURA, located in Oulu, Finland (US office in San Francisco).
The Movano Ring (above) will come in four styles and be available later this year. The monitoring device “measures a user’s heart rate, temperature, SpO2, calories consumed, and steps taken, among other parameters generally tracked by smart wear. However, Movano’s app is the killer feature, as it can give actionable insights to users into their health so that they can make short-term, as well as long-term, changes,” Digital Trends reported. Clinical laboratories may one day be processing data streamed from these devices if the FDA grants class II medical device designation. (Photo copyright: Movano.)
Movano Seeks FDA Clearance
In an interview with MedTech Intelligence, Movano’s CEO John Mastrototaro, PhD, said the company saw a gap in the wearables market. “There was a real lack of solutions designed specifically for women and some of the unique health challenges women face as they age.”
Movano intends to seek US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) medical device clearance (Class II designation), although that may not be completed at ring launch time, Digital Trends noted.
Cuffless blood pressure testing and blood glucose monitoring are “holy grails for wearable tech,” and Movano plans to add them over time and testing of its radio frequency, The Verge reported.
“We’re taking the regulatory side of things very seriously,” Mastrototaro told The Verge.
In a news release, Movano announced completion of a study it conducted with University of California San Francisco “to assess the accuracy of the Movano Ring’s blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) and heart rate data.
“With results that exceeded the requirements of the industry standard used by FDA for evaluating SpO2 devices, this successful study is a promising step toward the company’s goal to provide medically-validated data to consumers and healthcare professionals,” the news release stated.
Seven participants wearing Movano Ring prototypes participated in the study to test the device’s accuracy during mild, moderate, and severe hypoxia, as well as heart rate changes while they were deprived of oxygen.
Comparing data to other reference devices, the researchers found the Movano Ring resulted in a 2% margin of error, which was well below the FDA’s 4% margin of error requirement for blood oxygen saturation, the news release stated.
Ring Works with Sensors, App
Sensors embedded in the Movano Ring collect data which is available to wearers through a smartphone application.
“Data from sensors that are embedded within the ring revolve around heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep respiration rate, temperature, blood oxygen, steps, calories, and other women-centric features. We want to have the app experience where all that sensor data is going to the app,” Mastrototaro explained in an interview with Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry.
“One of our goals is to translate those measures into what it means about your overall health. We don’t want to bombard people with data … we want to distill it all down to insights for people that help them understand how activities of daily living and their lifestyle affect their overall health,” he said.
Another Smart Ring
“Taking the sensors from a smartwatch or fitness tracker and shrinking them into a ring is worthy of enormous praise … There’s much more tech crammed in this time around … including continuous heart rate tracking, temperature monitoring, blood oxygenation, and (menstrual) period prediction,” Engadget said.
OURA developed a new SpO2 feature to help ring wearers uncover problems in breathing while sleeping. In a blog post, scientists explained: “Typically, SpO2 is measured by placing a pulse oximeter on the tip of the finger … the Oura Ring measures light reflected back from the tissue. Fingertips provide good optical characteristics for this noninvasive measurement as blood vessels have thinner walls and are more diffused.”
The Oura Ring Generation 3 costs $299 and comes in silver, black, stealth, and gold finishes. There is a $5.99 monthly membership fee, and the app is compatible with Android and Apple iOS operating systems.
Wearable Health Monitoring Device Trend on the Rise
Over the years, Dark Daily and our sister publication The Dark Report have regularly covered the growing trend of consumers using wearable technologies to monitor their own health and the health of loved ones.
In “Smartwatch-based Fitness Apps Gaining Popularity Over Other Fitness Wearables such as Fitbit. Will This Affect the Data Clinical Laboratories See Streaming Their Way?” we noted how consumer demand for health trackers combined with other smartwatch capabilities is driving a trend away from simple health trackers and toward more complex devices, such as the Apple Watch, for their more powerful capabilities.
And in “Smart Pacifier That Monitors Electrolyte Levels in Saliva Could Prove to Be Beneficial for Vital Care of Infants in Newborn Intensive Care Units,” we reported on a unique wireless bioelectronic pacifier that monitors electrolyte levels in newborn intensive care unit (NICU) babies and sends the collected data to caregivers and hospital information systems in real time.
It should be clear to clinical laboratory leaders that popularity of wearable monitoring devices and digital healthcare is expanding among consumers. The data collected may soon find its way into new treatments for chronic illnesses and early warnings for diagnosticians.
–Donna Marie Pocius