With wrist-based heart monitors, algorithms to detect arrhythmias, and a growing number of health features, most wearable-makers are looking to reach a broader group of adopters than gadget fans and fitness enthusiasts.
Oura, a company making a sleep-tracking ring, is no exception. The company is involved in clinical trials to see if its device could be used to detect early signs of illness, or track fertility, based on users’ temperature and heart rate.
The startup recently raised $100 million in funding, which it plans to invest across all parts of its business, including hardware, software, marketing and customer experience. New investors that participated in the funding round include Temasek, JAZZ Venture Partners, Esai Co., and Elysian Park Ventures, the investment arm of the LA Dodgers.
“These funds provide Oura with substantial runway for important future opportunities,” CEO Harpreet Singh Rai wrote in a blog post.
The startup was founded in Finland in 2014, and has raised $148 million to date, according to Crunchbase. Oura’s tiny wearable device includes two infrared LED sensors, body temperature sensors and an accelerometer to track users’ activity, sleep and heart rate.
The price, at $300, is less minuscule, though it’s about on par with smartwatches that measure similar metrics. To date, Oura said it has sold about 500,000 rings.
During the pandemic, many wearable-makers tested to see if their devices could play a role in predicting or preventing the spread of disease. For example, a virtual study by the Scripps Research Translational Institute found that changes in sleep, activity levels and heart rate could be used to identify Covid-19 cases — when paired with symptom data.
Researchers at UC San Francisco evaluated Oura for a similar purpose, to see if its temperature sensors could be used to monitor fever. They published initial results in Nature from the first 50 participants, showing that a rise in temperature did correlate with self-reported fever symptoms, though the study is still ongoing.
More broadly, Singh Rai said he plans to invest some of the new funds into helping people better understand what to do with their health data.
“But when we say wearable device — we don’t just mean tracking your steps,” he wrote. “People want more and need to know what to do with their data and how to take action toward understanding their health and improving it.”