Samsung launches Galaxy smart ring to track sleep and menstruation

Image caption, The company says the ring can be used to track your sleep

  • Author, Liv McMahon and Imran Rahman-Jones
  • Role, Technology reporters

Samsung hopes to lure in fitness and health monitoring technology enthusiasts with its latest wearable device: the Galaxy Ring.

The company launched the device on Wednesday during its Galaxy Unpacked event as the latest addition to the ecosystem of devices it says are “supercharged” with artificial intelligence (AI).

Smart rings, which use small sensors to monitor various health data, have been a niche product until recently, but their use by the England men’s national football team has made headlines.

It looks like Samsung wants to change that and has become the largest tech company to date in the smart ring market.

Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight, says the product choice is an “interesting gamble” for Samsung. His firm estimates there will be a global market of around four million smart rings by 2025.

“That’s a rounding error compared to the 250 million smartwatches that are also expected to be sold,” he told the BBC.

However, others argue that Samsung can make smart rings more mainstream.

“For most consumers, Samsung’s smart ring is the first contact they have with their smart ring. That top-of-mind awareness makes a big difference in the long run,” said Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst at market research firm IDC.

James Kitto, vice president and head of Samsung’s mobile division in the UK and Ireland, called the ring’s launch a “huge moment” for the company.

What are smart rings?

Smart rings can track health indicators such as your heart rate, sleep, and menstrual cycle.

The market is currently dominated by Finnish health technology company Oura.

In recent years, rings have become an essential fitness and fashion accessory for celebrities like Kim Kardashian.

Analysts say that due to their smaller size and sleeker appearance, they could become the successors to smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Google Pixel Watch.

Mr. Kitto described Samsung’s Galaxy Ring as “the smallest and most discreet product to date, offering accurate 24/7 tracking of health, wellness and sleep.”

Smart watches typically have more sensors than smart rings, allowing them to access and provide a wider range of health data.

But “less intrusive” smart rings could offer a convenient, comfortable and stylish alternative for people who don’t want to wear a bulky smart watch, especially at night to track their sleep patterns, Mr Jeronimo says.

The device works with Samsung Galaxy smartphones running Android 11 or later and will be available in stores in the UK from July 24, priced at £399.

Dr Efpraxia Zamani, senior lecturer in information systems at Durham University, told the BBC that Samsung’s Galaxy Ring, as part of a wider ecosystem of products that provide insights into users’ health and wellbeing, could be a “compelling proposition” for many consumers.

However, she warned that users of products that can access and monitor health data should be careful about what data is collected, how and where it is shared.

“Because it’s part of an ecosystem, data can be collected from the ring, the watch, the phone, and when you add it all up, it can have negative consequences as well as positive ones,” she said.

Collecting data on menstrual cycles has proven controversial in the past.

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