What Is a Smart Ring and How Does It Work?

Updated: Feb 15

A smart ring is a wearable electronics device with advanced mobile components that combine features of mobile devices with innovative features useful for mobile or handheld use. Technology in a ring is not only convenient but it is also less intrusive. Covering the present scenario and the growth prospects of the global smart rings market for 2017-2021, Technavio market research analysts have forecasted the global smart rings market to grow at a CAGR of more than 4%.

The report confirmed that Bluetooth-enabled smart rings, not NFC enabled smart rings, currently form the largest segment. This is mainly due to their ability to be easily integrated with smartphones. NFC-enabled smart rings are compact because they do not house a battery, unlike their Bluetooth counterpart. An NFC-enabled smart ring uses micro wireless receiving modules that can attract electromagnetic energy from the read-write equipment and effectively convert it to small amounts of electricity, which is more than sufficient to power the NFC chipsets. The NFC-enabled smart ring is mainly used for unlocking NFC-enabled smartphones, doors, and contactless payments. However, since the utility and features of an NFC-enabled smart ring are less, they are not quite popular. In 2016, NFC-enabled smart rings accounted for only 31.6% of the overall market.

The Bluetooth-enabled smart rings can house only a small battery. Vendors are developing smart rings that can last between one to two weeks. For instance, TouchX has a battery that lasts for 3-10 days, and ALTRUIS by Vinaya comes with a battery that lasts for almost a month. Currently, most Bluetooth-enabled smart rings house a lithium ion battery. However, it is expected that vendors might shift to lithium polymer wrapped batteries as they are much more compact and have the same output charge or voltage. These new developments will help make the bulky smart rings more compact and influence a larger crowd of end-users to use the product.

Advances in Technology And Miniature Electronic Components

There have been major developments in microelectronic components, which are used in wearable devices such as wrist wear devices. One of the major factors affecting the smart rings market is the bulkiness of the ring. NFC-enabled smart rings are compact while Bluetooth-enabled smart rings are relatively big and bulky. It is evident that Bluetooth-enabled smart rings are preferred over NFC-enabled smart rings as they can be paired with smartphones for notifications. However, due to the bulkiness of the rings, end-users prefer smart wrist wearable devices that are capable of higher functioning.

On this Chetan Mohan, a lead analyst at Technavio for human machine interface research shared, “Advances in the field of microelectronics can help make smart rings with higher utility and features, resulting in product differentiation. This can attract new consumers who are unfamiliar with the wearable technology, thus, resulting in higher market penetration,” says Chetan Mohan, a lead analyst at Technavio for human machine interface research.

Smart Rings Being More Than Just A Notifications Device

The growing applications of smart rings in the field of health and wellness are increasing the popularity of smart rings. NFC-enabled smart rings such as Jakcom R3 are equipped with far infrared radiation (FIR) energy stone, along with germanium and volcanic magnet, which increases the blood circulation in a human body. These advances show a beginning of a new era in the world of smart wearables markets.

Furthermore, smart rings can be used to unlock doors, monitor sleep patterns, make payments. They can also act as a fitness device. Although these applications are yet to find acceptance among consumers, the potential applications of smart rings are immense. Technavio expects vendors to develop smart rings into a utility device with increased functionalities that can drive the market during the forecast period.

Are smart rings the future of wearable tech?

That remains to be seen. Smart rings certainly offer great benefits when you compare them to smartwatches. They’re more comfortable to wear both night and day, have a longer battery life, and are more cost effective. On the other hand, many of the rings have a bit of an awkward style that might dissuade people from wearing them. However, in terms of health and preventative care, companies like Oura are doing exciting work. It may be that future smart rings will be most useful to hospital personnel and people whose stats need continuous monitoring. This would make smart rings handy items, indeed.