Hey, Look! Another Fitness Tracker For Your Finger, Now With a Button

The Circular smart ring looks like every other smart ring, but wants to distinguish itself via personalization.
The Circular smart ring looks like every other smart ring, but wants to distinguish itself via personalization.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

Smart rings have a few advantages over more common wrist-worn wearables. For starters, they can be more discreet, fashionable, and comfortable to wear while sleeping. The main issue is there aren’t as many of them out there—much less ones that offer the same breadth of features as wristables. That’s why it’s nice to hear about a new player in the field, the Circular smart ring.

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I got a chance to check out Circular in person a few weeks ago, and looks-wise it’s reminiscent of the Motiv Ring 2 and Oura Ring. Basically, it’s a stylish but relatively nondescript ring that could be worn in multiple scenarios without drawing too much attention. Inside there are useful fitness-tracking features, including an accelerometer, infrared heart rate sensor, and SpO2 sensor. There are two key differences between Circular and its rival rings: Circular features a button to turn off smart alarms and notifications (more on that in a bit) and a modular shell so you can change up the ring’s overall look. The ring also promises 2-day battery life and is both scratch-resistant and waterproof.

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The main pitch for Circular is a more personalized experience. In addition to regular sleep- and activity-tracking, Circular says it should be able to give insight into “overall wellness and energy” based on data collected and cross-analyzed from daytime and nighttime hours. That sounds a bit kooky, and in my briefing, I only got to see a prototype app, so I can’t say for sure how accurate these features are or how well they’ll work. That said, data personalization is all the rage when it comes to wearables these days so it’s not an outrageous claim either. As for specific metrics, Circular claims it should be able to track heart rate variability, sleep efficiency, sleep stages, steps, heart rate training zones, and blood oxygen levels. Circular also says it’ll launch with an AI assistant called Kira. I didn’t get to see that feature in action, but the company describes it as “an integrated intelligent companion that delivers smart and tailor-made insights with the user’s data, so they can improve at the right moment.”

If you squint, you can see the smart ring’s button. A Circular spokesperson told me it’s meant to easily and discreetly turn off notifications.
If you squint, you can see the smart ring’s button. A Circular spokesperson told me it’s meant to easily and discreetly turn off notifications.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

One of the more interesting features I did get to see, however, was the ring’s smart alarms. You should be able to set manual alarms for when you want to wake up or get a reminder, or you could opt for the ring to wake you up according to your sleep phase. The vibration is barely audible, but quite strong when you’re actually wearing the ring. I couldn’t hear it while it was buzzing on someone else’s finger during the demo, but I definitely felt it when I wore it on my own finger.

I was also pleased to hear that Circular plans to integrate with If This Then That (IFTTT), so for smart home nerds and self-quantifiers, there’s the potential to get creative with recipes. Maybe you could export activity or sleep data to spreadsheets (please don’t judge me), or set up notifications between your IoT devices and the ring itself. In any case, that’d be a pretty novel feature for a smart ring.

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A few of the interchangeable shells, along with the Circular ring.
A few of the interchangeable shells, along with the Circular ring.
Photo: Victoria Song (Gizmodo)

It’s hard to say anything concrete about Circular without testing it first, but a smart ring that offers in-depth metrics sounds pretty cool on paper. Right now you can preorder Circular on Kickstarter for $200—which is on par with other smart rings—for an expected delivery date sometime in August. That’s not an unusual course for smart rings—the Oura Ring and Blinq are two examples that got their start via crowdfunding and actually shipped to backers. Still, it bears reminding that when it comes to hardware on Kickstarter, it’s buyer beware.

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Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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DISCUSSION

joehawkeye
Go Hawkeyes

I had a Motiv for a while.  Stopped working when I forgot to take it off when scuba diving once.  Anyway, only thing I really got out of wearing that black ring on my right hand was a few couples approaching my wife and I at bars and asking if we were in the lifestyle.