Taking Ultrahuman’s sleep & fitness tracking Ring for a spin

Trending 1 year ago

Indian startup Ultrahuman has made a sanction for itself since 2019 by building retired a subscription fittingness level which offers a scope of workout and wellness-related content, integrating pinch 3rd statement wearables for illustration nan Apple Watch. In 2021 it expanded into offering aesculapian people sensing hardware which monitors real-time humor glucose — spinning up a programme focused connected encouraging users to way their metabolic wellness arsenic a fittingness intervention. This was followed, last summer, by a teaser of much hardware incoming: A smart ringing of its ain creation — to complement nan existing CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) sensor programme but which it besides offers arsenic a standalone health-tracking wearable to compete pinch nan likes of Oura’s smart ring.

TechCrunch tried a beta type of Ultrahuman’s Ring (or R1), arsenic its plainly called — testing it successful operation pinch its CGM-based metabolic search programme (M1) complete a month’s usage and for respective weeks connected its ain erstwhile it did not besides person entree to real-time glucose data. So location are really 2 reappraisal scenarios here: The Ring + CGM; and conscionable nan Ring. (We’ve antecedently tested Ultrahuman’s CGM-based programme connected its ain — click present to publication our study connected nan M1 from past year.)

For those not already acquainted pinch CGMs, these are partially invasive sensors which are worn straight connected nan assemblage — containing a filament that’s inserted nether nan tegument to let nan hardware to consciousness changes successful humor glucose via nan wearer’s interstitial fluid.

It’s a different communicative pinch nan Ultrahuman Ring: All nan sensors are afloat contained successful nan assemblage of nan smart ringing and only non-invasive techniques, specified arsenic optical sensing, are utilized to way nan user’s biomarkers. Absolutely nary tegument puncturing required.

However, if you’re up for wearing some nan Ring and nan M1, Ultrahuman’s its transportation is you’ll get a deeper level of wellness search arsenic it’s level is capable to nexus much biomarkers and tie a much elaborate image of really your manner impacts your metabolic health. 

While search humor glucose is astir commonly associated pinch group who person glucosuria aliases prediabetes, successful caller years a activity of startups has been commericializing CGM exertion for a much wide health-tracking and/or fittingness intent — creating a caller class of “biowearables”. The attraction present is connected trying to amended knowing of really manner factors for illustration diet, slumber and workout effect longer word wellness outcomes. And since metabolic responses to different foods and activities alteration from person-to-person nan committedness for this type of search is astir giving nan personification a instrumentality to spot really their own metabolism copes pinch immoderate they’re throwing astatine it — to thief them spell beyond generalist wellness proposal protocols and really unrecorded their champion (healthiest) life.


As a standalone wearable, Ultrahuman’s declare for nan Ring is it provides “deep” metabolic insights — drafting connected information from nan embedded somesthesia sensor, PPG sensor and mobility sensing IMU positive its ain algorithmic processing to way 3 factors which tin impact metabolism — namely: Sleep, accent and activity (or, much specifically, activity distribution; truthful fundamentally it’s monitoring really sedentary aliases different you are).

Ultrahuman says nan Ring’s artillery is bully for 4-6 days connected a azygous complaint — but caveats that this is “heavily” limited connected factors specified arsenic nan ambient temperature, wave of usage and artillery lifespan. In testing I recovered artillery life tended toward nan little extremity of nan range. The smart ringing ships pinch a charging dock that plugs into a USB port. Fully charging nan artillery takes astir 1.5-2 hours, per Ultrahuman. I recovered charging from level took astir 2 hours.

When some bits of Ultrahuman’s sensing hardware are worn successful operation (i.e. Ring + CGM), nan startup dials up its transportation — saying nan wearer tin expect “truly personalized” insights. What this intends successful believe is it’s capable to make correlations betwixt humor sweetener fluctuations and nan biomarkers nan Ring is tracking. For example, it says it tin spot if a mediocre night’s slumber led to a worse glucose response. And past if it notices nan personification isn’t course-correcting their slumber complete time, nan app tin nonstop them nudges to promote behavioral changes to prioritize getting value sleep.

The app is frankincense really cardinal to nan experience, moving alongside nan hardware to coming nan wearer’s biomarker information and bolt connected these algorithmically correlated “insights” and suggestions. It displays a real-time chart crippled of changing glucose levels on pinch a regular metabolic people (in nan lawsuit of nan CGM); and/or a group of aggregated scores for Movement, Recovery and Sleep (in nan lawsuit of nan Ring).

Drilling down a spot more, nan second trio of indexes are fed by a bid of “score contributors” — aliases biomarker data-points — specified arsenic “sleep efficiency”, “movement index”, “resting bosom rate” and “restoration time”, to sanction a few. In nan lawsuit of nan Recovery and Sleep indexes, these people contributors are each themselves individually scored wrong nan app; displayed arsenic a statement barroom that’s either greenish & afloat (“optimal”); orangish & middling (“good”); aliases reddish & debased (“needs attention”). You tin pat connected each to get a speedy précis of what they mean and why nan measurement matters for your metabolic health. You tin besides way backmost successful each scale to spot really each your regular scores person changed complete time.

Ultrahuman Ring

Image credits: Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch

There are much data-points too: The Recovery scale displays your lowest bosom complaint and mean (in BPM) charted crossed nan day; on pinch a floor plan showing bosom complaint variability (HRV), pinch an mean & a max surgery retired arsenic individual data-points. While nan Movement scale breaks retired number of steps (as good arsenic charting erstwhile they happened crossed nan day); activity successful METs (aka, metabolic equivalents), which is simply a measurement of your complaint of power expenditure (again charted complete time); progressive hours (& erstwhile they happened); full calories (estimated power usage for nan day); and your workout frequency.

The Sleep scale is moreover much data-point heavy: Breaking retired metrics for clip successful bed; full sleep; efficiency; mean bosom rate; mean HRV (in summation to breaking retired six individual people contributors arsenic scored ocular barroom graphs). It besides shows (still a characteristic successful beta astatine nan clip of writing) Average Oxygen Saturation (or SPO2) arsenic a percent retired of 100% (higher is better); slumber stages (awake; REM sleep; ray sleep; heavy sleep) — arsenic good arsenic breaking retired nan proportionality you spent successful each shape and displaying these crossed a chart truthful you tin spot erstwhile each of nan various stages occurred arsenic you slept.

Additionally, nan Sleep scale counts and maps movements (so it tracks really overmuch tossing and turning you do); displays your lowest bosom complaint during slumber & nan mean HR, on pinch a statement chart showing nan fluctuations complete nan people of nan night; HRV (average, max and a floor plan mapping nan changes); and your somesthesia (also arsenic an mean and arsenic a statement graph).

The Ring tab besides foregrounds your existent HRV (+/- really galore points disconnected your average) and your tegument somesthesia astatine nan apical level, i.e. without nan personification needing to drill down into circumstantial indexes to get eyes connected those metrics. Elsewhere, there’s a fastener for sharing an scale overview, successful a societal media-friendly ocular paper form, if you’re inclined to want to quantify your metabolic wellness successful public.

If each that sounds for illustration quite nan dump of information it perfectly is. But nan app’s position of nan search does astatine slightest foreground nan 3 (proprietary) aggregate scores (Movement, Recovery and Sleep) — giving you an at-a-glance overview of really you’re doing successful your quest for amended metabolic health.

It besides provides brief, text-based summaries, displayed straight nether these scale scores, to tie your attraction to notable data-points and connection suggestions for actions you mightiness return to effort to boost your scores. So you don’t person to do nan activity of drilling down to look complete each nan contributor data-points if you can’t beryllium bothered to get that geeky.

For example, if you person little Recovery scores that time nan app mightiness propose it’s “a bully time to spell for those agelong walks and effort a non-sleep heavy remainder session”. Or if your Sleep scores are a spot disconnected it mightiness nudge you to “try sleeping a small much to amended your betterment and performance”. (More sleep? If only!) Or if you’ve been diligent astir not being excessively sedentary it mightiness reward you by watching your activity scale “indicates consistency” — and “consistency is nan cardinal to bully health!”. So spell you!

But much granular information is decidedly down location successful nan app if you spell looking — truthful nan merchandise has been designed pinch committed biohackers successful mind too.

Form facet & design: The ring’s nan thing…

As anyone acquainted pinch nan crippled of The Lord of nan Rings could show you, rings tin beryllium tricky things — pinch a wont of slipping around, and moreover sliding off, nan finger.

Ultrahuman’s Ring is nary different. A highly polished soul aboveground intends it fits (ha!) successful this somewhat slippy class contempt having a chunky form. The startup does vessel retired a sizing kit earlier sending nan merchandise itself, truthful you tin trial different size options to effort to find a snug-but-comfortable fit. However these dull integrative dummies clung alternatively much tightly than nan existent Ring does. So I recovered nan size I’d picked ended up being a spot looser connected nan intended digit erstwhile it was nan real-deal successful place.

The sizing kit recommended testing nan dummies connected nan scale finger. However I’ve really ended up wearing nan Ring connected my thumb rather a batch of nan clip arsenic nan earthy bump of nan knuckle helps support it connected and it benignant of gets successful nan measurement little of immoderate I’m doing. It looks (and feels) good present truthful this hasn’t been an rumor aesthetically. But I was concerned it mightiness impact information capture.

I asked Ultrahuman astir wearing nan Ring connected a thumb vs a digit and it told maine this digit isn’t nan optimal choice: Rather nan index, mediate aliases ringing fingers are best. But it did besides opportunity they’ve seen “many users” deterioration it “without inaccuracy” connected their pinky fingers aliases thumbs. “When switching betwixt fingers, location will only beryllium information value issues if nan ringing is loose connected nan fingers and isn’t fitting nan measurement it is expected to; a snug fresh is recommended for meticulous information capture,” it added.

Fingers themselves tin beryllium tricky things too, of people — swelling aliases shrinking depending connected really lukewarm aliases acold it is. There’s other situation because humans hands are often exposed to a assortment of different conditions. So, naturally, these biology shifts tin impact nan Ring’s fit. The upshot is immoderate ongoing flux — whereby nan Ring is either emotion snugger aliases looser depending connected what’s going connected astir it that time aliases moment. I’ve truthful sewage utilized to needing to switch it betwixt fingers successful hunt of nan champion fresh (or to debar it getting successful nan measurement of immoderate I’m doing).

For worldly for illustration family chores (cleaning, chopping and washing veg to navigator etc) and immoderate forms of workout (e.g. lifting weights) it seems slightest intrusive worn connected nan thumb (even if that’s not nan astir optimal placing for information capture). For a master activity for illustration climbing I’ve really had to region it wholly — since you conscionable don’t want thing getting betwixt your tegument and nan climbing wall (and surely not a chunky, scratch-able ring). So it’s not ever imaginable to prolong nan tracking, depending connected your lifestyle.

Ultrahuman Ring

Image credits: Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch

A much applicable interest if you consciousness you must sometimes region nan ringing entirely, is not only is location nary information being recorded while you’re not wearing it but you mightiness extremity up forgetting wherever you put it erstwhile you took it disconnected — pinch nan consequence of losing it if you misplace it. I’ve decidedly had a fewer scares complete wherever I put it aft taking it off. (And, I mean, conscionable inquire Gollum astir that precious problem… )

So, connected balance, I consciousness a wrist-mounted shape facet (i.e. a set aliases watch) whitethorn person much advantages than a smart ringing — being little intrusive for nan personification (even while physically larger); little exposed environmentally (to regular manus washing, moisturising etc); and astatine little consequence of being mislaid (since there’s little request to region it wholly during nan day). Wrist bands are besides — IMO, arsenic an proprietor of an Apple Watch — amended suited for exercise-tracking since they’re little apt to get successful nan measurement of immoderate activity you’re doing (throwing, lifting, pulling, swimming etc) since they people beryllium much securely connected nan body.

They besides look little apt to get damaged arsenic a consequence of vigorous workout arsenic wrists thin to beryllium much shielded from activity than hands.

It seems nary mishap that fittingness trackers started arsenic bands and took complete nan smart watch category. So a ringing shape facet does look a spot of a left-field prime for a fitness-focused wellness tracker. After all, rings person — traditionally — had a mostly ornamental purpose. Or, well, beryllium to signify a definite type of relationship. And smart hardware isn’t typically prized for its artistic qualities. So unless you’re aft a much ornamental look step/sleep locator a smart ringing doesn’t look nan evident prime for specified a purpose.

Commercially speaking, of course, you tin spot why a startup would not beryllium keen to spell toe-to-toe for wrist real-estate pinch dense hitters for illustration nan Apple Watch. Smart ringing hardware frankincense offers nan chance for startups to carve retired a fittingness search niche that tin astatine slightest supplement (if not wholly supplant) much mainstream wearables. (And much newcomers are making smart ringing moves — see, for e.g., Movano Health’s scheme for a female-focused twist connected finger-mounted tracking.)

Form-factor reservations aside, Ultrahuman’s Ring does look beautiful nice, arsenic this benignant of chunky-look jewellery goes.

The golden type of nan Ring I was testing looked and felt good (slippy-ness aside). It was a spot bulky but I person mini hands truthful your bandwidth connected that whitethorn vary.

There’s a prime of colors and finishes — including immoderate attractive-looking achromatic and metallic options — and a subtle geometric shape to separate a ‘top’ from nan remainder of nan set without making it fussy aliases overtly gendered. The startup says nan Ring is made of Titanium pinch a “scratch resistant” Tungsten Carbide coating. This outer metallic coating wasn’t immune to scratching — and, complete respective weeks of wear, nan benignant of patina you’d expect to create connected a portion of metallic jewellery duly appeared. But, to my eye, this didn’t detract from nan wide look.

The hardware creation besides seemed coagulated and robust, dealing ably pinch nan shifting demands thrown astatine quality hands — and throwing up minimal connectivity issues (but expect a short lag successful nan greeting arsenic it reconnects and offloads data). So I didn’t person immoderate large quibbles pinch reliability aliases nan hardware’s look and feel. Rather it’s nan smart ringing arsenic a form-factor that raises questions for maine astir comparative functional inferior for this benignant of fitness-focused use-case.

For immoderate very progressive group a wrist-mounted locator is apt to beryllium a much applicable prime astir of nan time. (It’s nary astonishment that athlete-focused plays for illustration Whoop person gone for nan wrist, for example.) That said, being arsenic a ringing is smaller than a wrist set aliases watch, it whitethorn beryllium much comfortable for immoderate group to slumber in. And for those looking for a wearable for slumber tracking, especially, Ultrahuman’s Ring mightiness fresh nan measure amended than a much bulky type of band. (That’s not my ain acquisition pinch wearing an Apple Watch overnight, but, well, these are subjective kinds of considerations truthful what useful aliases doesn’t whitethorn dangle connected nan person.)

I was a small concerned nan ringing mightiness pinch my fingers astatine nighttime — fixed really assemblage somesthesia (especially for women) tin alteration and whitethorn mean fingers sometimes swell a small during sleep. I did announcement it seemed to fresh a spot much snugly successful nan morning. But, again, I felt I could get astir this interest by choosing a spot of a thinner digit overnight. So, again, provided this doesn’t origin a deed to information consistency location are ways to activity astir this benignant of fresh concern.

One much point connected form-factor: Ultrahuman has suggested its Ring tin grounds biomarkers specified arsenic bosom complaint much accurately than an Apple Watch fixed its sensors are taking measures much often. The accuracy of nan biometric information being captured by wearables is instrumentality circumstantial and an ongoing area of statement — truthful much investigation is apt needed earlier immoderate patient conclusions tin beryllium drawn — but arsenic it besides notes accuracy whitethorn dangle connected really good fitted nan Ring is then, fixed changeable existent world conditions, nan ‘quality’ of nan information seizure seems apt to alteration too. Which adds complexity to these benignant of comparisons.

Performance & personification experience

Ring + CGM

Having road-tested Ultrahuman’s CGM-based metabolic fittingness search programme backmost successful 2021, an acquisition I wrote up successful my January 2022 review (for those aft a deep-dive into wellness search pinch a CGM), I had precocious hopes for what nan operation of nan Ring + CGM would mean for nan metabolic insights nan level could provide. An rumor I flagged successful that earlier reappraisal was really nan app wasn’t capable to automatically separate betwixt humor glucose spikes caused by workout (which, connected manually logging your workout, nan app will pass you are “good” spikes) and those related to nutrient (the bad spikes).

The rumor is that while manually logging workout — aliases integrating pinch different wearable, for illustration nan Apple Watch, to sync your tracked workouts — provides nan app pinch a awesome that activity is happening it tin still springiness a debased people to a repast you ate successful adjacent proximity to a workout because of really agelong you spent complete nan target optimal glucose scope (even if nan spike was owed to an aggravated workout, not because of what you ate).

Given nan Ring tin consciousness activity I was expecting nan search to person sewage smarter astir distinguishing workout-triggered spikes from food-related spikes. In nan event, it still seemed to struggle pinch this. I found, for example, that meals eaten adjacent to aggravated workouts would typically still consequence successful a little people than they mightiness different person done because glucose elevation aft nan workout contributed to “time complete target” (a antagonistic metric) sloppy of nan value of nan nutrient choices.

Exercise is not nan only different imaginable trigger for a glucose spike, of course. Poor slumber and accent tin elevate humor sweetener (neither of which are good, obviously). But during testing I moreover noticed humor sweetener could sprout up arsenic a consequence of a elemental ambient somesthesia variation. Changing apparel successful a acold room, for instance, could origin a ample capable emergence successful glucose for nan app to pass maine astir nan request to “get movin'” arsenic nan captious metric changeable complete 120 — whereas optimal glucose, which it nudges you to effort to maintain, is betwixt 70-110 mg/dL.

Asked astir nan situation of making consciousness of bully vs bad spikes, Ultrahuman co-founder Mohit Kumar agrees it’s a “tricky” area — describing it arsenic “a spot of a heuristic problem to beryllium solved”. “Personally, I besides get unimpressed by our expertise to not separate betwixt these 2 things,” he told TechCrunch. “So we person to return a changeable astatine it and spot — really do group react?”

One attack Kumar suggested nan squad whitethorn research is to accommodate nan metabolic scoring astir these types of events — but pinch a informing that scores will only beryllium meticulous if nan personification is accurately logging their nutrient intake. Or other only connection this benignant of adaption to those who are thoroughly logging their nutrient to debar nan consequence of reducing nan wide accuracy of nan level for nan mean user.

On nan nutrient logging front, it’s adjacent to opportunity astir users are improbable to beryllium doing this wholly accurately. Firstly because logging everything you devour is conscionable tedious. But, beyond that, it’s besides not ever imaginable to beryllium wholly meticulous astir what you’re eating — either because nan nonstop point you ate isn’t listed successful nan app’s inventory (and civilization nutrient entries won’t beryllium system information that nan app tin automatically interpret); aliases you don’t cognize nan nonstop amount of each of nan ingredients consumed. (The app has a conception displaying “total macros” — which counts cumulative calories, protein, fat, carbs and fibre arsenic you log your meals complete nan time — but nan figures it displayed for maine were ne'er meticulous since I wasn’t weighing and inputting each azygous constituent I ate individually.)

Beyond that, you mightiness not moreover cognize each nan ingredients successful what you’re eating. Meals you didn’t hole tin travel larded pinch each sorts of unexpected additions — truthful if you’re eating retired a lot, getting takeaway aliases eating pre-prepared/packaged meals past nutrient logging tin beryllium other challenging. (And if testing a CGM has taught maine thing it’s that sauces are often a minefield of hidden, sugary ingredients.)

The upshot is meals you mightiness not expect to beryllium bad for glucose stableness tin still astonishment you pinch a spike. Which is besides why figuring retired what’s a bully vs bad summation successful humor glucose remains tricky algorithmically, moreover pinch entree to much information than ever — successful nan M1 + R1 scenario. Hence why this remains a activity successful advancement for Ultrahuman.

What did nan Ring adhd to nan M1 humor glucose search experience? In summation to getting a full caller tab chock-full of Ring biomarker information to geek retired on, nan app blends further notifications into nan main metabolic search timeline.

For example, it mightiness driblet successful pinch an affirmative clap connected nan backmost for being “pretty progressive today” — aliases an moreover bigger plaudit for “achieving your steps extremity of 10,000 steps”. Or it mightiness pass you your “heart complaint dropped early” (during sleep) — watching that “helps amended slumber value and recovery”. Or, if you went for a locomotion aft a repast and being progressive helped negociate down nan nutrient spike, it mightiness popular up to connection a thumbs-up for nan “great occupation keeping nan metabolic people successful nan target zone”. Or, connected nan flip side, if you’re slaving distant astatine your table for hours being sedentary, it mightiness ping complete nan suggestion: “Time to move?”, on pinch a nudge that “moving often helps pinch amended humor circulation and power balance”.

Some of these nudges consciousness beautiful akin to worldly you’ll find connected a mainstream wearable for illustration nan Apple Watch — which, for example, has a characteristic that tin virtually pat you connected nan wrist to promote you to guidelines up and locomotion astir a spot each hour. So really useful immoderate of nan app’s much basal ‘activity needling’ notification are is apt to dangle connected whether aliases not you already ain a smart watch arsenic location whitethorn beryllium immoderate plagiarism successful functionality.

However, Ultrahuman’s app besides sent immoderate much absorbing compound notifications — specified arsenic nan 1 supra successful which it links going for a locomotion aft a repast to positively managing down a humor glucose spike — which are intelligibly chopped vs mainstream wearables. And this is wherever there’s added worth to beryllium (data)-mined — if it tin subordinate much dots and make meticulous and actionable correlations betwixt nan user’s manner and improved humor glucose regulation.

A wearable that’s capable to do nan smart lifting of connecting manner factors pinch metabolic outcomes seems much apt to beryllium successful astatine motivating users to make behavioral changes that tin adhd up to large wellness positives complete time. Because, arsenic we know, conscionable telling personification to do thing doesn’t thin to get a awesome response. But if you’re nudging them successful a measurement that shows them what happened arsenic a consequence of thing they did it it could lead to a eureka infinitesimal wherever nan personification is inspired to ain nan alteration for themselves. That’s nan really large committedness glimpsed here.

I opportunity committedness because it’s still early for nan Ring + CGM. Ultrahuman’s attack to notifications and nudges is intelligibly still a improvement activity successful advancement (the product roadmap shows a pipeline of features upcoming and moreover immoderate caller and arsenic yet undisclosed biomarkers).

But if they tin rotation on, crunching nan information and much tightly correlating manner choices and humor glucose fluctuations — and usage those insights to creation much of these smarter nudges that thief group understand nan impacts (good and bad) of really they’re surviving connected their wellness — nan imaginable for nan programme to present a  transformative step-change successful nan powerfulness of this type of wellness search looks big. 

They’re not location yet, though. For now, a batch of the Ring’s pings tin look much absurd than joined up and it’s often not clear really nan personification should respond.

For example, nan 1 supra astir bosom complaint dropping early during slumber sounded bully but I didn’t cognize what I mightiness person been doing correct for that to happen. Or how, therefore, I should consequence to that spot of affirmative feedback — speech from, well, conscionable carrying on? The personification acquisition tin truthful sometimes consciousness rather passive — successful an ‘oh that’s bully (or not truthful nice) to cognize but now what?’ benignant of a way.

It seems clear that nan astir effective behavioral nudges are going to beryllium those that actively prosecute group by showing them nan agency they person to power their ain outcomes. At nan aforesaid time, there’s nary uncertainty what a analyzable endeavour that entails since truthful galore factors tin provender into (or return distant from) being healthy. 

Limits besides stay connected really overmuch we cognize astir nan interplay betwixt bodily inflammation and agelong word health. Even interpreting individual metabolic biomarkers tin beryllium challenging — specified arsenic HRV, a delicate measurement based connected search nan clip betwixt heartbeats which purpose to quantify nan capacity of nan automatic tense strategy and enactment arsenic a biomarker for bodily accent and remainder and betterment but which tin besides beryllium impacted by chronic inflammation and disease, truthful knowing really to publication a ‘low’ HRV people isn’t simple).

Metabolic wellness surely its ain peculiar group of considerations and challenges. And it’s important to statement location is still immoderate scepticism of nan worth for a wide consumer, pinch nary circumstantial aesculapian need, to beryllium search their regular humor glucose swings. So a merchandise that’s predicated connected nudging each sorts of group toward perchance beneficial manner changes — which might, complete time, stack up into a meaningful affirmative for their wide wellness (or “longevity”) — is needfully connected a travel to creation nan champion attack to execute optical outcomes for each types of users.

That travel is, evidently, a spot of a balancing enactment too. (Or moreover a juggling enactment erstwhile you propulsion successful life’s different typically little health-promoting demands connected users’ clip and mind.) So iterations and adaptations are to beryllium expected arsenic portion of nan push to “decode” metabolic health, arsenic nan transportation goes.

A speedy outcry retired for nan (human) “performance coaches” that Ultrahuman’s app besides puts astatine your disposal via matter chat.

These sports scientists and workout physiologists — which it touts arsenic being “NSCA-CSCS certified pinch years of divers acquisition successful training elite athletes and designing capacity and rehab training programs” — are location to return questions arsenic you navigate nan highs and lows of humor glucose tracking. And, if you springiness your consent, they tin analyse your CGM + Ring information to propose immoderate personalized manner biohacks.

One example: I had a awesome acquisition pinch a coach called Mugdha who smartly identified nan logic why I was regularly getting glucose spikes aft luncheon and meal — meals I had thought were balanced and patient (made of full foods, pinch plentifulness of fibre from veggies positive a bully root of protein) truthful should person meant I stayed wrong nan optimal range. The problem was I was eating a portion of consequence aft each repast which was pushing maine extracurricular nan target scope and triggering a bunch of glucoses crashes later on.

We’re endlessly told consequence is patient for america truthful it was not thing I’d moreover thought mightiness beryllium a problem. Turns retired how you eat consequence is important: The elemental biohack nan coach suggested was not to eat consequence pinch main meals; alternatively effort having it arsenic a snack betwixt meals. This mini alteration doesn’t make a worldly quality to my manner but it made a quantifiable quality to really galore of my meals spiked — and, therefore, fed into improving my wide metabolic score. Which is beautiful nuts — or, er, bananas! — erstwhile you deliberation astir it.

It’s besides absorbing that it took a trained quality (rather than AI) to spot that rumor successful my information and supply this ace elemental fix.

Another mates of nosy observations: While wearing nan M1 I took nan opportunity to road-test a fewer foodstuffs that are billed arsenic patient to spot what my ain metabolism made of them. Namely: Beyond Meat sausages (a vegan replacement to meat). Huel‘s basking & savory “instant meals” (a UK-based Soylent competitor). And nan meal and meal recipes of (in)famous biohacker, Bryan Johnson — who open sources each his data arsenic portion of his multi-million dollar quest for longevity via epigenetic property reversal (or, well, arsenic adjacent arsenic I could get to recreating his Nutty Pudding and Super Veggie — shrinking nan second to a much realistic information size for a normal person’s lunch, truthful for illustration 3x less).

I had a decent metabolic consequence to nan Beyond Meat sausage, eating 1 of these (mostly pea protein-based) vegan sausages accompanied by steamed and operation fried caller vegetables. Although nan app mixed this repast pinch an aggravated workout I did earlier that had elevated my glucose levels — meaning nan operation only scored 5/10 (as a consequence of a 31 mg/dL emergence successful glucose that kept maine retired of scope for 36 minutes+). Less good: Huel’s Mexican Chilli — eaten unsocial arsenic it’s billed arsenic a complete repast if you person 2x scoops — which caused a 41 mg/dL emergence successful glucose that kept maine retired of scope for astatine slightest 70 minutes, earning nan crockery a 3/10 people successful nan app. I ideate nan precocious cereal-based carb contented is what triggered maine there. Still, it was not arsenic bad arsenic existent Mexican food: One takeaway repast I ate, consisting of guacamole & tortilla chips positive a veggie taco, scored a large fat ‘0’ connected a 68 mg/dL emergence aft causing 96 minutes+ retired of range. So, er, eat tortilla chips astatine your peril!

Bryan’s Nutty Pudding was fixed 2 scores successful nan app since it initially evaluated it connected its ain (6/10, connected a 40 mg/dL emergence that kept maine retired of scope for 10mins+). It past revised nan people aft I drank a cup of greenish beverage soon afterwards — scoring that combo a 10/10 because of “minimal glucose change”. But, again, that illustrates nan complexities of trying to nexus moreover thing arsenic comparatively straightforward arsenic a alteration successful humor glucose to a circumstantial meal. On equilibrium I deliberation nan much meticulous people location is nan little 1 — whereas my ain chia pudding meal concoction reliably scored higher than 6/10 (so consciousness free to ping maine for nan look Bryan!). The Super Veggie crockery was, possibly surprisingly, a debased scorer (4/10 connected a 46 mg/dL emergence that kept maine retired of scope for 38 minutes+). But I person recovered that lentils do look to spike for me. I would astir apt person a amended consequence if I dialled backmost nan proportionality of lentils and ate much of nan different veg… All of which is to underline really insanely individual each this worldly is! Or: What’s bully for Bryan won’t needfully beryllium optimally metabolised by personification else.

It’s besides important to retrieve that a repast is not conscionable food; it’s fuel. So if you’re going to beryllium progressive aft eating you mightiness want to load up connected carbs to guarantee you are decently energized for your workout. Whereas for table workers stuck successful a chair it’s nan other scenario. And successful nan erstwhile lawsuit Huel, for example, mightiness beryllium a awesome prime for an energetic pre-workout meal. Basically, you can’t conscionable look astatine meals successful isolation. It depends what you’re going to beryllium doing passim nan day. Hence why search and quantifying manner for wellness and fittingness needs to span a assortment of factors.

One early script for Ultrahuman’s level mightiness beryllium that it gets smart capable to beryllium capable to make progressively contextual suggestions and do truthful much pre-emptively than it tin now — so, for example, not conscionable nudging you to “get movin'” arsenic your glucose shoots retired of scope but possibly moreover popping up astatine nan constituent wherever you’re logging your nutrient to say: ‘Hey, this crockery looks for illustration it’s going to springiness you an existent burst of power — truthful deliberation astir pairing it pinch a workout!’.

As it stands, you do still person to do a batch of nan limb activity of navigating really to respond to nan information yourself if you want to get nan astir retired of nan CGM experience.

Ultrahuman Ring

Image credits: Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch

Just nan Ring

You don’t request to beryllium wearing a CGM to make usage of Ultrahuman’s Ring; it tin besides usability arsenic a standalone wellness tracker. But successful this script it’s a batch much vanilla — since there’s nary on-board glucose tracking. The attraction for nan smart ringing is connected search remainder and recovery, arsenic good arsenic keeping tabs connected really sedentary you are — truthful nan functionality whitethorn beryllium of liking if you’re either A) not very progressive (and person debased power levels) and want thief to amended that. Or B) if you’re progressive and are looking for a instrumentality to show really good rested you are and besides to thief pinch programming your training.

Clearly, there’s plentifulness of title for some these scenarios — from nan Apple Watch to rival smart rings for illustration Oura’s — truthful Ultrahuman’s Ring unsocial decidedly loses a differentiating edge. And, personally, successful nan lawsuit of nan activity search use-case, I’m not sold connected a smart ringing shape facet vs utilizing a wrist set aliases watch, arsenic discussed above. But others whitethorn for illustration a smart ringing — which lacks a distracting surface of its own. 

On nan activity search side, you get Fitbit-like activity search features (steps, activity and workout mapping etc) positive immoderate Apple Watch-esque nudges (via in-app pings) which are designed to activity against being excessively sedentary.

The Ring’s Recovery characteristic is intended to usability arsenic a regular guideline to training — offering a summary for really difficult to push successful your workouts based connected really good rested and recovered it reckons you are. Although much diversion users are apt to for illustration thing much granular and powerful for workout search — specified arsenic a much athlete-focused locator service, for illustration Whoop.

I’m not wholly convinced of nan usefulness of a ‘digital coach’ feature. Especially as, successful nan Ring’s case, it seems ace ray touch — offering very broad-brush proposal — to push harder that day, aliases “proceed arsenic planned”, aliases return it a spot easier — alternatively than serving up much tailored and circumstantial training aliases betterment recommendations. And being arsenic it’s truthful general, astir of nan time, you’re surely going to beryllium capable to spell pinch your gut feeling, vis-a-vis really overmuch power and pep you person connected a fixed time aliases really tired you consciousness — truthful I mobility why you request an app to show you really your assemblage already feels?

So my consciousness present is nan mean personification whitethorn struggle to find a awesome woody of standalone inferior successful nan Recovery Score characteristic — unless they worth nan personalized notification arsenic a motivator for exercising more. Or they’re taking nan clip to drill down and show changes to Recovery people contributors successful a measurement that helps them diagnose why they’re emotion little up for it than accustomed connected nan moving way etc (and usage nan data-points to people correct, by getting much slumber etc).

Although, again, a elemental hack we each cognize for improving our betterment is to conscionable get much sleep. And you don’t request a locator to do that.

The area that seems to beryllium nan biggest attraction (currently) for Ultrahuman pinch nan Ring is slumber tracking. As noted above, this conception of nan app is very information heavy. During nan testing play it besides added an further biomarker: SPO2 — for overnight humor oxygen search — truthful it’s evidently keen to support expanding what it’s offering here.

The extremity whitethorn beryllium to put immoderate clear bluish h2o betwixt nan Ring and different mainstream wearables for illustration nan Apple Watch, which offers a acold much basal sleep-tracking experience. So if you’re really focused connected quantifying really good rested you are (or are not) — and connected trying to fig retired precisely what’s getting betwixt you and nan bully Zzzs — Ultrahuman’s data-heavy attack whitethorn beryllium a lure.

It does make consciousness for nan startup to want to hone successful connected slumber for nan different portion of its hardware play (the CGM-based tracking) fixed nan cardinal domiciled slumber plays successful glucose regularisation (and so successful Recovery) — and truthful to wide metabolic health. However I do person a spot of a preservation complete nan granularity of nan slumber search if you’re conscionable utilizing nan Ring.

Firstly, for nan mean user, it mightiness conscionable consciousness a spot overmuch — and moreover a spot stressful. And that could extremity up being counterproductive to nan wide wellness mission.

Secondly, it’s not basal successful our gift to get much slumber than we already do. So receiving regular nudges astir nan request to get much (and better) unopen oculus are not needfully very useful. Most of america astir apt cognize we should get much slumber and would surely emotion to beryllium capable to walk much clip resting successful furniture if we could. But nan demands of activity and life do thin to get successful nan way. Which is why we extremity up burning (at least) 1 extremity of nan candle much often than we’d like.

Sadly, it would require a batch much than nan overseas in-app nudge to hole society’s chronic slumber shortage problem. (A able patron who could money our manner without nan request for america to work, say. Or children (and pets) who slumber soundly done nan nighttime — and/or a partner who ne'er snores. Or a metropolis that really sleeps. And truthful on… )

So, well, do we really request an app nagging america astir thing we apt cognize but can’t basal change? And, well, waking up to a regular slumber people that’s not optimal tin conscionable consciousness bad and stressful. So is this benignant of granular search really nan perfect measurement to promote amended value remainder and recovery? I’m not 100% convinced.

That said, I fishy it this depends connected nan person. Some group whitethorn thrive from being capable to analyse each sorts of slumber metrics — and connected trying to self-diagnose and region peculiar barriers opinionated betwixt them and amended rest. While others whitethorn conscionable consciousness overwhelmed.

Ultrahuman’s philosophy, generally, is geared toward arming users pinch ample information (those aforementioned Sleep Index people contributors successful this case) to promote them to do nan activity of trying to link biomarkers to manner choices and truthful fig retired really to edit their life to effort to optimize their scores. But of people not everyone is going to prosecute pinch specified a data-driven approach. And, clearly, a data-loving biohacking organization is much apt to want to excavation it and geek retired than a wide liking user — who wants and expects a batch much hand-holding (and moreover dense lifting) from their products.

Another rumor pinch nan Sleep Index is it tin consciousness especially absurd — successful that it tin beryllium difficult to cognize precisely what’s been referred to, fto unsocial really you mightiness spell astir correcting immoderate mediocre scores you’re getting. (Beyond nan evident hole of conscionable getting much sleep.)

So, for example, if nan app suggests your “sleep efficiency” aliases “timing” is simply a problem that “needs attention”, presumably that refers to A) really agelong you spent really sleeping while successful furniture vs clip successful bed; and B) erstwhile you went to furniture vs nan optimal model based connected circadian rhythm. But, well, 1) it’s astir apt not instantly clear to an mean personification what those labels mean; and 2) arsenic noted above, moreover if you drill down into nan explainer to effort and fig it retired fewer users mightiness consciousness they person heaps of quality agency to hole either of those types of slumber disruption issues. (Not successful this hectic life anyway… arsenic nan saying goes: ‘I’ll slumber erstwhile I’m dead.’)

Another illustration is somesthesia which besides feeds nan wide Sleep Index score. The app regularly informed maine my somesthesia was elevated but it was intolerable to cognize what to do pinch this information. I didn’t consciousness sick aliases person a fever truthful I was near wondering if nan hardware and algorithms were decently calibrated for women (as women thin to person much assemblage somesthesia fluctuations than men).

Ultrahuman told maine they person done “a mini adaptation” for women — to relationship for this greater somesthesia variety factor. So I moreover sewage to wondering whether thing environmental, for illustration other layers of wintertime bedclothes, mightiness beryllium contributing to these elevated somesthesia scores. I ne'er figured retired precisely what was going on. The app’s vague suggestions for imaginable caused ne'er seemed to fit. So it remained a spot of a mystery.

The startup told maine nan Ring really takes 2 somesthesia measures: Ambient somesthesia and tegument temperature, which it uses to effort to deduce halfway assemblage somesthesia — which it’s search truthful it tin connection features for illustration fever discovery but besides because it says somesthesia tin beryllium an important marker for wellness successful position of inflammation related to recovery.

It told maine elevated somesthesia tin beryllium a awesome of over-training. Or it could beryllium linked to a thermodynamic effect of nutrient (or alcohol, though I wasn’t drinking astatine each during nan testing shape truthful could discount that). Or to deficiency of sleep… So, successful short, it’s complicated!

Ultrahuman recommended nan metric is utilized successful conjunction pinch different biomarkers nan app tracks to effort to constrictive down whether there’s an “actionable” penetration to beryllium had off-of a “needs attention” reference connected it aliases not… But, again, I wasn’t capable to fig retired what it mightiness beryllium linked to successful my case. And nan illustration underlines nan situation of intelligently interpreting truthful overmuch data. (Temperature is conscionable 1 of immoderate 10 aliases truthful biomarkers feeding nan 3 Indexes — truthful there’s a batch of imaginable linkages and amplifications to consider).

The upshot, for an mean (most apt under-rested) Ring user, is nan Sleep scale tin beryllium a frustrating portion of nan app. And vexation tin make accent which tin negatively effect metabolic wellness and slumber itself… So location could beryllium a consequence of over-tracking itself being counterproductive to nan healthy-purpose nan merchandise is shooting for.

The aforesaid tin beryllium existent for nutrient tracking, via nan M1, excessively of course. But astatine slightest erstwhile it comes to nutrient there’s much bandwidth for making mini tweaks (even conscionable to nan timing of meals, arsenic pinch nan consequence illustration discussed above). Plus Ultrahuman’s in-app coaches are connected manus to analyse your nutrient logs pinch an master oculus and connection involution suggestions that don’t needfully require awesome behavioral changes.

But biohacking your measurement to amended sleep? It’s a conception that’s acold much experimental — and seems moreover much socioeconomic-class limited — than different types of manner interventions. (And of people very fewer of america person nan wealthiness of a Bryan Johnson to dedicate to implementing optimal shut-eye schedules.)

Despite this, Ultrahuman is leaning into biohacking sleep. Discussing nan caller summation to nan Sleep Index — SPO2 — Kumar suggested users could enactment connected a debased people for overnight humor oxygen by experimenting pinch rima taping, a non-scientifically verified believe than involves taping nan rima during slumber to promote nan assemblage to respire done nan chemoreceptor instead.

The experimental ‘sleep hack’ went viral successful caller years, reportedly aft being promoted by TikTok influencers. The declare is it helps retrain nan assemblage to respire done nan chemoreceptor alternatively than nan rima — promoting deeper and much restorative breathing and oxygenation during nan night. However location person been only constricted technological studies into nan believe and there’s not capable grounds to corroborate whether nan method is really adjuvant aliases moreover wholly safe. (And plentifulness of doctors person warned against trying it out.)

So while having nan SPO2 data-point successful nan app mightiness beryllium a useful awesome for a personification to initiate a speech pinch their expert — if they are concerned they mightiness person slumber apnea — it’s not a metric you tin needfully do overmuch with, practically speaking, day-to-day (not unless you’re consenting to trial retired a viral TikTok inclination connected yourself). So location whitethorn beryllium constricted worth successful showing nan personification a regular percent people if they can’t really do overmuch to amended it. Tracking trends (up aliases down) for them is wherever nan app will want to get to.

Zooming out, a much wide niggle I had pinch nan Ring’s UX is I often recovered its messaging contradictory vs nan data-points it was reporting — and/or retired of measurement pinch nan real-time reality of what I was doing. The Index scores particularly often felt retired of sync pinch really I felt (i.e. good rested/recovered aliases not) — aliases really overmuch I’d precocious moved.

For example, drilling down into nan Recovery Index 1 time I was met pinch a notification that “your resting bosom complaint is connected nan little broadside today. This indicates amended remainder and recovery”. However nan positive-sounding feedback was displayed straight supra a slope of “recovery people contributors” almost each of which were successful nan red, including “resting bosom rate”, specifically — which was listed arsenic “needs attention”. The wide Recovery Score astatine that infinitesimal was besides 64 (out of 100) — which successful axenic numerical position doesn’t look worthy celebrating.

In different visually contradictory instance, nan app displayed a people of 100 for nan Movement Index 1 greeting (presumably arsenic I’d sewage a precocious nighttime locomotion in). Yet nan matter beneath this read: “Your caller activity scale trends bespeak you’ve been moving lesser than usual. Today’s a caller time to get backmost connected track.” (The connection “trends” present suggests it’s looking astatine much than nan astir caller activity information but nan position of nan 2 truthful adjacent together is disjointed and risks being confusing.)

Another illustration followed a sleep-related notification which informed maine of “optimal betterment detected” — on pinch matter that read: “Your HRV is trending higher than nan erstwhile night. This is simply a marker of improved remainder and recovery”. Great, you’d think. However nan Sleep Index contributors displayed straight beneath this showed HRV successful nan reddish (“needs attention”). So, er… 🤷

The situation present — speech from nan header 1 for immoderate health/fitness wearable of intelligently interpreting what nan tracked biomarkers really signify for nan personification (and suggesting useful manner tweaks aliases behavioral changes without turning them off) — seems to hinge connected balancing really much/granular information to show while besides pulling from nan information connected their behalf to distill and show trends successful a measurement that makes consciousness based connected what nan personification is experiencing and immoderate different data-points being made disposable to them successful nan app.

At times, nan Ring tab felt beautiful baffling successful this regard.

More intelligibly separating trends-based observations from real-time data-points mightiness help. Even conscionable by putting much ocular accent connected trends vs individual data-points — since, ultimately, trends and smart notifications is wherever nan mean personification should beryllium straight astir of their attention.

But, arsenic discussed, nan Ring is still a beta product. So let’s spot really this constituent evolves. (A caller summation by Ultrahuman successful this area is emailed “weekly insights” — which it says it hopes will thief users “understand their metrics successful a longer inclination line”.)

Ultrahuman Ring

Image credits: Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch

Bottom line

Health search and biohacking is not caller successful user tech position but successful immoderate ways nan section still feels for illustration it’s conscionable getting started arsenic nan situation of decoding each nan biometric information that sensing wearables are picking up just keeps stepping up. 

CGM technology, pinch its adjacent real-time model onto humor glucose levels, provides an particularly fascinating — and comparatively caller — summation to nan mix. One which holds nan committedness of powering genuinely personalized interventions that could move nan needle for each sorts of group — successful a measurement that wide patient manner advice, astir nan benefits of eating good and getting capable exercise, each excessively often won’t. But it’s besides clear that cutting-edge products successful nan class are still grappling pinch really champion to construe and coming nan accusation they’re tracking. So, astatine times, nan personification acquisition tin consciousness experimental and immature.

Ultrahuman’s level is nary objection — possibly particularly arsenic it took a ‘reverso’ attack which started pinch CGM hardware and has only now bolted connected wide fittingness tracker, adding a group of much acquainted biomarkers to nan humor glucose-driven metabolic scoring it started with.

Adding nan Ring to its hardware operation whitethorn not only service to widen nan entreaty of its level by attracting a much wide user (who would ne'er beryllium good firing a CGM into their arm), but could thief nan startup dial up captious differentiation successful nan class — by providing it pinch much information to place correlations betwixt humor glucose-related inflammation and manner factors. The cardinal will beryllium figuring retired really champion to package insights into actionable and effective behavioral nudges — interventions that mightiness moreover beryllium applied much broadly if (or when) humor glucose search doesn’t require a semi-invasive CGM… So Ultrahuman’s squad has sewage plentifulness to support them busy. 

For now, nan combo of nan Ring positive CGM shows clear flashes of imaginable for unlocking smarter interventions arsenic we get a tighter knowing of really a person’s manner impacts their metabolism. New features were being introduced complete nan play I spent pinch nan beta product, pinch tons much slated to come, truthful nan acquisition continues to germinate astatine pace. But successful nan not excessively distant early it looks a beautiful safe stake that immoderate of nan cutting-edge search being pioneered by startups for illustration this 1 will bleed retired into nan mainstream.

Editor: Naga

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