Gucci has launched its latest must-have accessory. Is it a belt? Is it a moccasin? No. Those distinctive interlocking golden G’s now adorn… a health tracker.
But it’s not just any old health tracker, it’s an Oura health tracker – the sleek, stylish ring worn by wellness warriors. It passes for a gem but tells you everything you want to know (and some things you’d rather not know) about your health, fitness, and sleep habits. And it’s yours for just £760.
Even before the Gucci collaboration, the Oura sat at the luxury end of the health tracker market, with prices starting at £239. Launched in Finland, with offices in California, it has sold 1 million rings since 2015. Gwyneth Paltrow was an early adopter — of course she was — and whips them up on her Goop website.
Kim Kardashian once bragged about her Oura sleep score on Instagram – after a good eight hours of sleep, she had a score of 93/100.
Kerry Potter (pictured) tests the new Gucci x Oura health tracker ring for four months
To score that high, you need not just quantity but quality – the perfect mix of light, deep and REM sleep cycles, to fall asleep quickly (but not too quickly, because that means you’re too tired) and your resting heart rate to be optimal. All this is recorded by the magic ring.
Gwyneth was furious. ‘OK what??’ she replied. “I thought I was killing him at that Oura ring game. I guess not.’
Prince Harry and Jennifer Aniston are also loyal followers, while Will Smith has invested in the business.
I first laid eyes on an Oura while having lunch with Matt Rogan, a sports industry insider and the fittest person I know. We were writing a book together about the future of sport and health, called All To Play For, and discussing wearable technology.
It passes like a jewel but tells you everything you want to know (and some things you’d rather not know) about your health, fitness, and sleep habits.
At first I thought he was putting his wedding ring back on, which seemed weird. But when I looked closely at the chunky titanium bracelet he had placed in my palm, I could see tiny jewel-like sensors, bright green, studded along the underside.
These sensors measure your body temperature, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, and sleep quantity and quality. This data is analyzed to give you three daily scores out of 100 – assessing your readiness (to face the day), your activity levels and your sleep – as well as a plethora of personalized advice to keep your health on track .
Something keeping you awake? it takes. Hmm… it will be Chablis!
This 6g shard of metal had, according to Matt, changed his life. “It’s helped me listen better to what my body is trying to tell me. It warns me when I’m going to catch a cold a few days before it hits, analyzing my body temperature changes and my eating habits. sleep.
“I then adjust my behavior – early in the evening, by increasing my vitamin C intake. This helps me avoid or lessen the symptoms of two or three illnesses a year.
Intrigued, I joined the Ring of Oura community. I am sent a sizing kit first and then the ring is shipped from the USA. I opt for the titanium gold option at £320. It’s chunky (a more feminine design wouldn’t hurt), but still more understated than the traditional watch tracker, which tends to be an outfit killer.
I download the Oura app on my phone and sync it to the ring.
Oura says you don’t need to take it off except to charge the battery (it lasts a full week). It also claims its heart rate readings are more accurate than other trackers because on your finger it’s closer to an artery than, say, a watch on the outside of your wrist.
Oura focuses on sleep and recovery. I tend to speed through life at 100 mph and have almost no free time once I’m working, caring for my two young children and running the house is nailed down. Sleep is often an optional extra and if I get a rare free hour, I’ll probably do a 10k run so I can tick exercise off the to-do list.
Kerry (pictured) says that since wearing the ring she has taken things easier and takes better care of herself
But after testing the ring for four months, I’m noticeably kinder to myself. “Take it easy,” Oura urges through the app, or “Try to take it easier today.” And I pay attention.
I used to fall a disturbing amount while running, because I pushed myself too far when I was tired. I would trudge, I would lose my concentration and I would stumble.
Since wearing the Oura, however, that hasn’t happened. Same as getting sick. He offers a personalized, suggested bedtime (currently between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.), gently admonishing me to hit the bag early and not get engrossed in a book until at least 11:30 p.m.
It can also tell when I’ve been drinking, which is scary, but it’s made me much more aware of the impact a single glass of wine has on my sleep.
“Something kept you awake last night?” he inquired, noting that my heart rate was high until the early hours, meaning poorer quality sleep. Hmm, it will be Chablis.
The Oura is well-meaning but it can be a bit annoying.
“Bedtime is coming, time to relax,” he says, though I haven’t left the office yet and still have a million things to do. I guess if you’re a Silicon Valley tech bro, you can just get off the tools and climb into your personal nap pod.
If Oura was a person, she would be a healthy Californian in gym clothes, walking beside me. But maybe I shouldn’t sullenly anthropomorphize a small metal band.
Prince Harry (pictured wearing the ring) and Jennifer Aniston are also loyal followers, while Will Smith has invested in the business
“It’s just that the ring is doing its job,” a more rational Matt shrugs when I complain about his nudging.
I sometimes feel both overwhelmed and caught off guard by Oura’s endless data. While it’s kind of fun/horrifying to see my heart rate spike right before my weekly Tuesday morning meeting with my boss, I don’t know what to make of that information, when I time it home that night.
And some days I wake up fine but my ring tells a different story. When I’ve only slept four hours and 53 minutes, I’d rather not know.
“Having a lot of health data should be great, but there can be a tendency to become too dependent on it, and even dependent to the point where it influences mood,” says James Davis, a psychologist who runs the The Midlife Mentors health coaching program.
Women, who account for 40% of sales, are increasingly presenting their ring data to their doctor
James stopped wearing his health tracker when his wife pointed out that the first thing he did every day was check his sleep data, rather than check in with himself on how he was actually feeling.
“You want to make sure you’re the boss of the device rather than being your boss,” he says. Troubles aside, the Oura is a seriously impressive piece of kit and won’t be getting off my finger anytime soon. Its period tracker is the best around, using body temperature readings to track your cycle.
Women, who make up 40% of sales, are increasingly presenting their ring data to their doctors, says Caroline Kryder, the company’s product marketing manager and women’s health manager.
“For women going through menopause, it’s helpful for them to see if their temperature becomes more erratic, their cycle gets worse, their sleep changes. You can tell your doctor, “I can show you all this data; I’m in touch with my body and I’m telling you something’s wrong, so help me. ‘
Matt, meanwhile, is recovering from a bad Covid fight and says looking at his Oura data is preventing him from “falling into an even deeper Long Covid hole”.
While these devices are still the preserve of the wealthy and/or the health-obsessed, as more come onto the market the prices will come down. In the future, we might even see something similar available on the NHS.
“If something like the Oura could be provided at a lower cost than, say, a three-month supply of diabetes medication, then that becomes a serious option,” Matt says. I assume, however, that you won’t be able to get the one from Gucci on prescription.