The best smart ring for fitness junkies beats the Oura in 4 main ways

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key points

  • The Ultrahuman Air Ring is the brand’s first foray into the smart ring space and is available for $350, with no subscription required.
  • The ring is ideal for both fitness enthusiasts and recreational athletes looking to use their health data to optimize their wellness routines.
  • The app’s user interface could be improved to make it easier to access daily logging features.

The Ultrahuman Air Ring is one of the hottest new smart rings on the market, with features and data collection that goes a step beyond Oura for people looking to optimize their health. Last month I tested one alongside the Oura Horizon ring, wearing both throughout the day while logging everything from my morning coffee to my evening cocktails. Suffice it to say that the Ultrahuman ring will excite people who are marked by their health and fitness.

Also: I tested the Samsung Galaxy Ring and it beats the Oura in two significant ways

While Oura seems to appeal to just about anyone looking to invest in a smart ring, Ultrahuman’s offering, while more niche, is arguably better. If Oura Ring is the girl next door, Ultrahuman Ring Air is Silicon Valley’s Soylent-drinking Bitcoin-mining neighbor. But while it will put fitness enthusiasts on the right track, this ring will also help anyone, even recreational athletes, optimize their bodies.

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Unlike the Oura Ring, which requires a $6 monthly subscription, the Ultrahuman Ring Air is subscription-free. The Ultrahuman comes in Matte Grey, Matte Black, Silver and Gold. Of all the smart rings I’ve tried, it’s by far the slimmest, most discreet and unassuming. Also, the matte gray finish hasn’t scratched or tarnished after a month of use, which I can’t say about other smart rings with shiny metal finishes.

Too: The best smart rings: tested and reviewed by experts

From the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, Ultrahuman sends you notifications on how to make the most of your available energy and body clock. With all these scientific ideas about my body, I couldn’t help but feel like I was hacking my health or playing God.

Within an hour of waking up, Ultrahuman pings me about my “residual adenosine levels.” my what? I had to look it up too. Adenosine is the natural chemical associated with wakefulness. He tells me to delay consumption of stimulants like caffeine until about two hours after I’ve been awake to flush adenosine out of my system and increase caffeine’s impact on my energy levels. It also reminds me to expose myself to bright light or exercise during this window if I want to go to sleep and wake up earlier.

I get pings like this all day long. Ultrahuman tells me when my allowable stimulation window is running out, the window where I can consume caffeine without it disrupting my sleep. Not only that, it also tells me how much caffeine is in certain stimulants, how long they’ll stay in my system, and whether they exceed my caffeine intake window.

As the day progresses, it pings me to stretch my legs and when my ideal bedtime would be for a good night’s sleep. This is all calculated from my wake times, sleep and recovery data.

Plus: The Oura Smart Ring’s shiny new features outshine even its titanium finish

Ultrahuman Ring Air measures heart rate, skin temperature, heart rate variability (HRV) and resting heart rate to determine sleep, recovery and movement data. It also measures VO2 Max, or how the body uses oxygen during workouts.

Ultrahuman presents all this data in an easy-to-understand format via an app, with scores (and explanations) for the big three: sleep, movement and recovery. For example, when I got a sleep score of 95, it told me that I fell asleep faster and stayed asleep for most of the rest. Along with my high sleep score, I got a recovery score of 90, and the information told me that my scores were in good shape, so “you might want to push a little more towards your fitness goals and cognitive”. On a day when my sleep score was 49 and my recovery score was 64, the app instructed me to take a long walk and try a “deep sleepless rest session” during the day.

Ultrahuman Ring Air against the horizon

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Other health data such as HRV, VO2 max and resting heart rate are tracked, and day-to-day data is aggregated and displayed through graphs with daily, weekly and monthly trends, represented by green and red indicators. All of these data points come with explanations of what each indicator means about one’s overall health, which shed light on the complexity of them.

Another health feature offered by the Ultrahuman ring is food logging, which leverages AI food insights based on ChatGPT. It records the foods I eat throughout the day, and its food-optimizing AI provides what it calls cyborg insights—not, really, about how to avoid glucose spikes when I consume certain foods. When I checked out a bag of chips, he told me to pair the chips with cheese or another protein, like a hard-boiled egg, to slow glucose absorption. He also told me to drink water before and after eating the fries and to take a brisk walk after eating them to lower my glycemic response. While I rarely took this advice, I see it as a useful feature for fitness and diet-obsessed people who want to optimize their diet and health data.

Too: Oura Ring users can now sync data with Strava; here’s how to enable it

Of course, you can also log your workouts, which I did often while training for my half marathon. The ring doesn’t automatically detect that you’re exercising, though, if it doesn’t register. I hope Ultrahuman improves this in future updates. I liked being able to see the map of where I ran, my average heart rate, my max heart rate, the calories I burned, and my average pace. Plus, it also shows my training zones, which is essential for tracking long runs.

The final feature that makes this ring ideal for exercise enthusiasts is its Discover tab, which offers video classes for everything from pilates and weight training to HIIT and yoga. There are podcasts available for meditation and soundscapes for falling asleep.

Ultrahuman Ring Air held in hand

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

You can wear the ring for about five days before the battery dies. When I tested their battery versus the Oura, I charged both to 100% on a Tuesday afternoon and waited to see how long each battery would last with normal wear and activity. As of Sunday morning, the Oura Ring was at 7% and the Ultrahuman Air Ring at 6%. I will note though that the Ultrahuman ring gets hot to the touch after charging.

Too: The best fitness rings

In the next update of the Ultrahuman Ring Air, I would like to see the improvement of the user interface of the application. You might take some notes from Oura’s app, which offers sleep, readiness, resilience and activity at the top of a home tab that aggregates that data at the bottom. Ultrahuman’s bottom tabs include home, metabolism, zones, discover, and a simple profile section. I’d also like to see a more accessible logging feature where you don’t have to scroll down the app to use it to track food, exercise, weight, and more.

ZDNET Shopping Tips

So who should buy this ring? I imagine anyone who has been ticked off with fitness and health metrics will make full use of this Ultrahuman Air Ring. And considering how often my Ultrahuman’s sleep duration and sleep and recovery scores mimicked Oura’s, I wouldn’t be afraid to call it a non-subscription dupe of Oura with rival data and duration of the battery

Ultimately, I was impressed by the Ultrahuman Ring Air. With such a new product, it’s exciting to see how it’s evolved into a competitive fitness smart ring that’s niche enough to carve out an audience of devout fitness fanatics, but with data presentation, health metrics, and suggestions of AI they could satisfy. to the average Joe just as well.


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