Oura: The health-tech company taking wearable tech to a level no one else dared

Mar 17, 2023

Oura. Does the name sound familiar? Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Oulu, Finland, this cutting-edge health-tech company is taking the world by storm thanks to continuously successful product launches driven by consumer insights. Its innovative approach has already led to the creation of a completely new category combining health tracking and fashion/jewellery. 

Even if it’s the first time you’re hearing the name Oura, you’d need to have been living under a rock to not recognise Gucci. The internationally renowned luxury fashion brand recently teamed up with Oura to bring the world a true product innovation: a smart ring that was not only cutting edge in terms of technology; it was also extra sleek and stylish. 

A history of wearable tech 

But let’s rewind a bit. Smart technology has been around for much longer than we realise. According to Agenda Life Sciences, today’s health trackers all stem from the pedometer, the first portable wearable health technology. In fact, it’s already been over a decade since the first Fitbit Tracker was released in 2009. 
Essentially these devices are still the same – they’re portable and they let you monitor certain elements of your health. However, over time they’ve become more sophisticated, comfortable and, particularly in the Oura Ring’s case, much, much more intelligent. 

oura rose gold smart ring and mobile phone app

The most accurate smart ring 

Oura presented its first smart ring in 2015. The first of its kind, this ring was far superior to any other health metric wearables on the market that were limited to displaying personal data. The second-generation ring followed in 2018. Both product launches were successful. However, it was Oura’s drive to innovate and provide customers with even more that led to the creation of the third-generation Oura Ring. 

International fashion brand Gucci teamed up with Oura to create a true product innovation.

What does the Oura Ring do?

Released in 2021, this small but mighty piece of technology runs rings round the competition. 

Oura Heritage 3rd generation smart ring coloursDesigned to measure sleep, activity and how ready someone is to take on the day, the Oura Ring’s impressive seven research-grade sensors tell wearers how their body feels and what it needs at any given moment. By tracking traditional health stats such as temperature and heart rate, it alerts wearers when they need more sleep, when they are getting ill or stressed, if they are reaching their health goals, and when their next menstrual period will begin. It generates daily scores to give wearers a more global view of their health habits and provides updates about their energy levels so they know when to push it or take it easy. In fact, the cover offered is so complete, the Oura Ring is truly a self-care package. 

The road to a successful product launch 

So how did this little-known Finnish company scale up so quickly to create a ground-breaking new category and partner with an Italian fashion powerhouse? By incorporating user testing early and often into their innovation process. Oura quickly understood the importance of avoiding decisions based on personal preferences. It’s no wonder then, that they opted to kick off their innovation process with quantitative user testing to test their hypotheses.

As the saying goes, you have to give people what they want. What better way than to get real consumer insights? When designing a product for your target audience, you have to put ego and emotion aside and do what the data says for the best chance of success. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t brainstorm and think of your own ideas. On the contrary. The beauty of user testing, particularly early on in the process before any big decisions have been made and resources invested, is that it enables you to keep your options open, get bold and creative, and test even your wackiest ideas. Then, once you have the results, you can start narrowing down your options to ensure your efforts are focused on only the most viable solutions. 

Testing early keeps options open. You get bold and creative, testing even the wackiest ideas, to eventually identifying and focusing on the most viable solutions. 

The value of an iterative mindset

One of the key obstacles in a category such as wearables is to understand which features really drive consumer behaviour and how to communicate them to consumers. Oura prides itself as a solution-focused company, with a love for problem-solving and a preference to confront obstacles head on. For each problem they identify, they aim to bring three ideas to solve it using robust data obtained from market research. 

Unlike smart watches and wristbands that you can quickly strap on and adjust to suit, rings need to fit well. Oura wanted to create a purposeful product that was functional and attractive but it also had to be highly practical. They invested in wearability and comfort, relying heavily on user testing and consumer insights to answer many important questions including Is it too heavy? Is the band too thick? Will it get in the way of daily activities? Is it discreet enough for people who don’t usually wear jewellery? 

This approach enabled Oura to radically ramp up iteration throughout the innovation process to ensure every product that goes to market is created based on hard, data-driven solutions, resulting in true product innovation and their latest gen 3 Oura Ring: lightweight at 3 grams, water-resistant up to 330 feet, and available in a user-tested range of sizes and colours. Battery life lasts up to 7 days and fast charging means you have a full charge in 20 to 80 minutes. 

Consumer insights radically ramped up iteration at Oura, ensuring every product is created based on data-driven solutions.

Launching innovative products with confidence 

Consumer insights have played such an important role at Oura, even bringing the different stakeholders together, from R&D to Finance to Marketing, creating tight-knit collaboration that further speeds up iteration across the company to secure successful product launches. 

There’s no doubt it’s been an impressive journey to where they are today but what we really want to know is Is the Oura Ring effective? The data speaks for itself. Oura conducted studies with highly impressive results. They found the finger to be the ideal source of accurate heart rate data, which is likely the reason why the Oura Ring has near perfect electrocardiogram (ECG) scores: 99.9% reliability compared to medical-grade ECG for resting heart rate and 98.4% reliability compared to medical-grade ECG for heart rate variability.  

Intelligent. Modern. Stylish. Ground-breaking. 


Curious to hear more?

Oura is speaking in our next live webinar. Join us on Thursday 30th March at 11 am (CEST) as Hardware Product Analyst Liliia Troianenko lists the steps to achieving successful product launches.