(Pocket-lint) – Fitbit is exploring the possibility of a health monitoring smart ring focusing on improved SpO2 and blood pressure tracking.
As detailed in a recently uncovered patent – first spotted by TechRadar – the Google-owned company could be looking to branch out from its usual form of wrist-based wearables to the user’s finger.
The US Patent and Trademark Office filing – imaginatively named ‘ring for optically measuring biometric data’ – was originally applied for back in December 2020, and was published in June 2021.
It offers up plenty of detail about how exactly a Fitbit smart ring would work, with the core feature of the potential device appearing to be its SpO2 tracking.
Being able to accurately track SpO2 levels and trends during sleep is now a crucial feature in wearables from companies such as Fitbit, since this data can often help point to a potential underlying illness or condition.
However, unlike the pulse oximeter sensors we’ve seen on Fitbit’s wrist wearables so far, which measure SpO2 levels by shining red and infrared light onto your skin and blood vessels before using the reflected light bouncing back to measure blood oxygen, the smart ring could do things slightly differently.
As described in the filing, the Fitbit ring could switch to a more accurate photodetector sensor, which allows for transmissive examination of blood oxygen levels.
This would instead measure the light shining through the finger with a photodetector sitting on the opposite side – a similar method to current medical-grade equipment.
Interestingly, Fitbit appears to suggest that this transmissive detection might help assist other areas, too, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, glucose levels and lipid concentration.
Of course, while this is would all represent an interesting pivot from Fitbit into a new wearable space, it’s important to stress that this is just a patent concept – of which, only a very small number actually make it to a production line.
If it does decide to follow through on smart ring plans, though, it could act as a real boom for the area – especially if it offers up the less intrusive, more accurate method of health monitoring posed in the filing.
The current leader in the space is Oura, but, in truth, competition is weak; Amazon’s Echo Loop attempt barely made it off the ground before being canned, and startup Motiv has now repositioned itself within biometric security.
A fully-fledged Fitbit smart ring may finally convince users that the form factor is worth considering, but only time will tell if the company is willing to take the gamble.
Writing by Conor Allison. Originally published on .