Thursday, June 13, 2024

Another big tech company is working on a smart ring

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Fitbit smart ring patent filing.Fitbit smart ring patent filing USPTO/Fitbit

Samsung’s upcoming and heavily leaked Galaxy Ring may be getting all the attention right now, especially with Samsung Galaxy Unpacked around the corner in July. However, it looks like Samsung may have an additional competitor soon. According to a report by Gadgets & Wearables, a patent was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and it reveals that a new Fitbit smart ring is in the pipeline.

The patent, titled “Ring for optically measuring biometric data,” describes it as a “ring-shaped wearable device for detecting biometrics with a light source and photodetector.” The patent was first submitted in June 2021, but it’s only been granted now.

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The 20-page patent document also reveals a slew of specs and features we can expect. According to the filing, the new Fitbit ring will use a lot of Fitbit’s existing technology. It’s expected to have multiple sensors to monitor heart rate, oxygen levels, and possibly stress levels through skin conductivity measurements. The big focus would be on fitness and sleep tracking, and there’s a specific mention in the filing of SpO2 monitoring to keep track of blood oxygen saturation. These are all features that Fitbit smartwatches already offer, but the challenge for Fitbit will be making them small enough to fit on a smart ring.

Blood oxygen monitoring on a Fitbit smart ring USPTO/Fitbit

While this is a challenge, it shouldn’t be a big one for Fitbit. These sensors already exist on the Oura Ring, RingConn Smart Ring, Ultrahuman Ring Air, Zepp Health, Helio Ring, and others. The patent comes with various illustrations that show a smart ring that doesn’t look very different from others already on the market. There are some different clasping mechanics, including an “elastic element” and other unspecified mechanisms.

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We would expect the Fitbit ring to pair with the Fitbit app via Bluetooth or NFC. In the coming year, Fitbit is also expected to incorporate an AI coach into its services.

All this said, a patent filing isn’t necessarily a guarantee that a device is coming. Many companies file patents simply to hold on to an idea that never sees the light of day. However, with many smart rings already on the market and the Galaxy Ring upcoming, we’d be shocked if Fitbit never released a smart ring, even if it may not necessarily resemble what’s shown in the filing. Fitbit is well positioned to enter the smart ring market, and it could do particularly well if it released a more affordable alternative to the Oura Ring and Samsung’s Galaxy Ring.

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