Circular revamps the world’s thinnest smart ring as the wearables market heats up

Fitness and health tracking startup Circular today announced a host of new features including hardware upgrades for the latest version of its smart ring — the thinnest in the world.

The upgrades arrive amid an escalating battle between smart ring manufacturers. While your FitBit and your Garmin and your Whoop bracelet wearables may all be easily distinguishable, you’d be forgiven for not immediately being able to tell the difference between the hardware of an Oura, Superhuman, or a RingConn from afar. As such, the features and software these health trackers come with are also their biggest differentiators — stylistic preferences aside.

One contender for the “one to rule them all” title (we know, not very imaginative, but did you really think we’d write a story about a smart ring without at least one LOTR reference) comes from French health and performance tracking startup Circular.

Making the wearable more wearable

Boasting the “world’s thinnest, most powerful tracker,” Circular today released a host of new features to its Ring Slim. It is aptly named, as it is only 2.2mm thick and weighs in at a mere 2 grams.

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Its creators say that the new version is even more comfortable than its first Ring Slim, which launched in November last year.

“What we wanted to do with this new version was not just have more features, but also make it even more wearable,” Circular’s co-founder and CEO Amaury Kosman told TNW.

Changing the material inside the ring has made it so that it feels less itchy. There is also less friction against the finger as a result.

A Circular slim ring depicted under water
The Circular slim ring is now waterproof to a depth of 1.5 metres. Credit: Circular
A Circular slim ring depicted under water

Additionally on the hardware side, the new features include an improved scratch-resistant exterior. It now also comes with IP68 waterproof and dust rating. This means the ring is water resistant up to a depth of 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes, and resistant to a “high level” of dust.

New sleep and heart rate algorithms

When it comes to software, the Slim Ring now features a new sleep staging algorithm with a near 80% accuracy rate against Polysomnography.

There is also an advanced “heart rate during sport” feature, which also allows users to track GPS routes and analyse detailed performance metrics. This is integrated into the new app feature called the “Sport Session Circle.”

Elite athletes that have joined Circular as ambassadors are former F1 driver Romain Grosjean (whose dramatic fireball crash featured in Netflix’s Drive to Survive season 3), and Swiss basketball player Clint Capela who currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks.

AI and rewards

Circular has also made upgrades to its AI wellness assistant Kira+. The idea behind the feature is to help consumers interpret their data and make it actionable. Circular’s AI offers personalised recommendations and insights based on the user’s health data, while improving and learning over time.

“We recommend users use the notes feature in the calendar, and then Kira will match them and make a correlation between the notes and the data,” said Laurent Bsalis, Circular’s COO and co-founder.

In the app, there are also many more features than before, including an “Advanced Analysis Circle,” which allows users to compare all their health and wellness data in a single graph.

“There are also things like recommending you when to go to bed, providing better snapshots after your day, and a feature where you can overlap all the metrics and get a better understanding of your lifestyle and how your day and your month evolves,” Bsalis said.

In order to further motivate users to make healthier choices, Ring Slim wearers now earn Circular coins by achieving wellness goals. These can be used for accessing premium features or purchasing products with offers from partners. This feature is retroactive, so early users will benefit from everything they have done from the start.

Crowdfunding smart ring success

The smart ring division of the wearable technology market is still in its infancy. The market leader by far is ŌURA, a Finnish company having been founded in 2015. Ultrahuman, which has found itself at the centre of some controversy regarding its business practices, was founded in 2019. Meanwhile, RingConn, which just released its first model, launched in 2021.

Circular came about in 2019, and began crowdfunding through platforms Indiegogo and Kickstarter in 2020. The newly minted company raised $405,000 and $380,000 on these platforms, respectively. The ring’s unique selling points are its thinness, along with a haptic feedback function.

The latter can be used to set soundless wake-up alarms during optimal sleep stages, medication reminders, or even alerts if vitals fall below a determined level.

But designing such a thin health tracking device — especially including haptics — has not come without its challenges. This has been especially true for mass manufacturing, with some smaller parts being entirely custom-made for Circular.

“As soon as you take out even 0.1 millimetres of resin that can protect some parts of the rings, you have a huge risk. So you need to really make sure during manufacturing that everything is set optimally,” Kosman said.

The smart ring market

All of the companies mentioned above are hoping to claim larger pieces of the pie of the smart ring market, which is predicted to increase from $147.1mn in 2022 to over $1.4bn by 2032 according to a DataHorizzon Research report.

While there are only a few rings like Circular’s that measure multiple biometrics and provide feedback, several cheaper, more passive rings that offer only step count or sleep tracking have flooded the market in the past couple of years.

“For now, I’d say it’s still divided between active and passive rings. But as time goes on, I think active rings are going to take the lead,” Kosman said. “We are still at the beginning of the upward trending curve, but it is going to plateau probably in four or five years.”

The Circular Ring Slim sells for $281/€259/£226 depending on where you are, without any subsequent subscription fee. We hope to share a proper review of the new Ring Slim soon.

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