Already a world leader in the smart wearables market, India is home to multiple innovations in a new and emerging form factor within this category, which hitherto meant just smart watches or audio hearable gadgets: the smart ring.
By drastically reducing the weight of a wearable device to 2-5 grams and crafting them like fashion accessories, while adding some new and useful functions, multiple Indian startups are taking on established leaders in the wearable business.
Market watcher Counterpoint predicts that what was a nascent segment in late 2023, will balloon in the new year, doubling sales volumes and ringing in (pun intended!) sales of Rs 207 crore (US $25 million).
Leading Indian brands like boAt and Noise have been joined in the launch of smart rings by new startups like Ultrahuman and Bonatra, who are concentrating on just this one type of wearable.
It is only a matter of time before premium global brands like Samsung will enter this arena, suggests Counterpoint.
According to tech-analyst, IDC, Ultrahuman currently leads the smart ring category, scooping up over three-fourths of market share, followed by Pi Ring and boAt.
Explains IDC India Research Manager Upasana Joshi: “Smart rings add novelty to the wearable device space, with brands trying to position it as a fashion accessory and a non-intrusive health device. While currently there are very few models, we can expect more mainstream brands launching more affordable options in 2024.”
There are two distinct application streams in a smart ring: health monitoring and contactless payments.
Health Monitors From Ultrahuman, boAt, Noise And Bonatra
At just 2.4 grams to 3.6 grams depending on the size, the Ultrahuman Ring AIR, from a Bengaluru-based startup, is claimed to be the lightest smart ring in the world.
Made from titanium with a tungsten carbide carbon coating, the ring measures heart rate, oxygen saturation and skin temperature. It monitors sleep health and duration and tracks the wearer’s movements for glucose metabolism. It costs Rs 28,499.
The smart ring from boAt is a smart activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, smart touch control and smart charging device that costs Rs 8,999 from the company site.
The Luna Ring from Noise, offers a variety of health insights and activity monitoring. It costs Rs 17,999.
The Smart Ring X1 from Bonatra tracks sleep, movement, heart rate variation (HRV), temperature, and oxygen level (SPo2) for optimal health. It costs Rs 11,863.
Explains Counterpoint Senior Analyst Anshika Jain: "The smart ring is a more natural and convenient way for consumers to track their health vitals and remain connected all the time, even during sleep when many are not comfortable wearing watches or put their watches to charge.”
Contactless Payment From 7 Ring
“Just place your fist on a Point Of Sale machine, wearing a 7 Ring, and your payments will be approved!” say the makers, Mumbai-based Sevenring Innovations Pvt Ltd.
Its contactless payment feature enables users to make secure contactless payments without the need for a wallet, phone, app, pin, or OTP. It uses NFC or Near Field Communication technology which does not need Bluetooth to make the connection.
The 7 Ring is crafted from Zirconia ceramic material and promises a combo of fashion and hassle-free payment. It is also one of the more affordable of the Indian smart rings and is offered for Rs 7,000.
Combine Health Tracking With Tap-To-Pay
The two streams of health and payment can coalesce: In September last year, Muse Wearables, a startup incubated at IIT Madras unveiled Ring One which it claimed was “the world’s most comfortable and stylish smart ring that offers advanced health tracking features” (including cuff-less blood pressure measurement) and on-the-go payments, with the ease of ‘tap-to-pay’.
With its “Turn wheel” interface, users can quickly switch from workout mode to payment mode.
Unlike some smart rings that while developed in India are made by contract manufacturers in China and elsewhere, Ring One is “completely designed and manufactured in India” and the products are already in the mass production stage. Ring One is priced at Rs 18,999.
The smart ring seems poised to catch the Indian buyer's fancy in 2024 with its utter simplicity of design and combo of utilities. Time to ‘ring’ in some smart changes!
Anand Parthasarathy is managing director at Online India Tech Pvt Ltd and a veteran IT journalist who has written about the Indian technology landscape for more than 15 years for The Hindu.
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