Samsung’s Galaxy Ring Requires Less Attention than a Smartwatch

Samsung has been distributing smartwatches for over a decade. However, at its Unpacked event on Wednesday, we received a preview of what’s coming for Samsung’s wearables line: the Galaxy Ring.

This narrative is part of Samsung Event, CNET’s compilation of news, recommendations and advice around Samsung’s most trendy products.

Smart rings are not new, although they’re not as common as smartwatches. The Oura ring is preferred by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, and Movano’s Evie smart ring was designed with women’s well-being in mind, which my colleague Bridget Carey recently put to the test. However, Samsung’s entry into the smart ring market suggests small devices worn around the finger that can gather health metrics may be more than just a niche device for celebrities and athletes.

For Samsung, the Galaxy Ring is just one component of the company’s wider intention to develop a network of devices that can provide information into the Samsung Health app, portraying a fuller picture of our habits.

“I think you should look at the ring as one of many steps towards multi-device engagement,” stated Hon Pak, vice president and head of the digital health team for the mobile experience business at Samsung Electronics.

The Galaxy Ring appears like an ordinary piece of jewelry upon first glance, until you notice the tiny sensors and electronics scattered across the inner lining. The version of the Galaxy Ring that I witnessed was a prototype, but I was told that it generally reflects the appearance of the model that will eventually go on sale. I wasn’t allowed to photograph the ring, but I tried on all three colors: silver, dark gray, and gold. The ring felt larger than typical women’s jewelry but was surprisingly light on my finger. Like the Oura ring, the design itself is sleek and minimalist and almost looks like a traditional groom’s wedding band.

There’s a lot we are unfamiliar with about the Galaxy Ring yet, such as when it will launch, how much it will cost, which types of sensors it will have and which health metrics it will gather compared to the Galaxy Watch. But the Galaxy Ring is another vehicle for Samsung to carry out its health strategy, which focuses on four specific types of health data: sleep, nutrition, activity and stress.

With the Galaxy Ring, Samsung hopes to gather that type of data in a way that’s more subtle and less distracting than a smartwatch. To put it plainly: Not everyone wants to wear a watch, particularly a smartwatch.

“Some people want a more simple form factor, and [the] ring represents that,” said Pak, adding that the ring can passively measure health metrics without needing the level of engagement that a watch would. “And then it’s got to be stylish, it’s got to be comfortable, it’s got to have long battery life. And those are the characteristics that we’re working on.”

We’ll have to wait until Samsung uncovers more details about the Galaxy Ring to know more specifics. But Samsung did show some the new health features it’s developing for the Samsung Health app during its Unpacked keynote, which could provide some insight into Samsung’s approach.

Samsung is launching a new metric called My Vitality Score, which is basically a rating designed to assess your physical and mental readiness based on factors such as sleep, activity, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. Pak informs me it will include a validated test for measuring your alertness in the morning, and it’ll be available for Galaxy Watch devices and the Galaxy Ring. It sounds similar to readings and scores we’ve seen from other wearable tech brands, such as Oura, Fitbit, and Garmin, all of which already have scores for measuring readiness.

Samsung also wouldn’t be the first to put an alertness test in a wearable; the Pison Ready wristband and Citizen CZ smartwatch also have this type of functionality. However, it’s rare to see a test like that on a ring, which could be one way the Galaxy Ring could stand out from Oura’s offerings.

The other significant feature coming to Samsung Health is Booster Cards, which are tidbits within the app that provide insight into the “why” behind your health readings. If your sleep score is low, for example, a Booster Card might tell you it’s because you’re tossing and turning too much. Oura and Garmin also offer similar insights in their apps.

Regardless, it’s another indication that tech companies are making a bigger effort to connect the dots between your health data points. And Samsung isn’t alone in this regard; Google’s Fitbit is also using AI to provide deeper health insights through a new feature called Fitbit Labs launching later this year.

Samsung is considering other ways to enhance the way you discover health data in its app too. After all, the Samsung Health app is as important as ever for a device like the Galaxy Ring since it doesn’t have a screen. When asked whether Samsung is considering creating a chatbot or virtual assistant to help users parse through health data, Pak said Samsung is looking at the option.

“We think the concept of a digital system that helps you to navigate and understand the context and navigate them to solutions are going to be necessary,” Pak said. “And what form factor that’s going to be is to be determined. And it may vary based on person to person, right? Some people just probably want audio; some people want a video on the TV.”

We’re likely a ways away from the overarching goal Pak described in which having smart mattresses and refrigerators communicating with your smartwatch or ring would be the norm. However, Samsung hopes the Galaxy Ring is another step toward that reality.

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