How smart rings could monitor blood pressure — and how accurate it could be

oura ring

In the future, could smart rings accurately monitor your blood pressure? Although it may seem far-off at this point, new research suggests there could be a way.


When it comes to modern smart ring devices like the Oura Ring, your options for blood pressure monitoring are limited. The Oura doesn’t currently support blood pressure monitoring, and the options that are available are generally smartwatch-based.

Of course, there’s also the fact that many commercially available smartwatches are not that accurate.

With all of that in mind, here’s what you should know about smartwatch or smart wing blood pressure monitoring.

The current landscape of smart blood pressure monitoring

OMron HeartGuide take a measurement

Blood pressure is a key metric to track for overall cardiovascular health. However, most of us only get our blood pressure checked while we’re at the doctor’s. Smart devices like rings or watches could provide a solution to this.

Because they’re so easy to wear, smartwatches and smart rings could easily allow for passive background monitoring of blood pressure without any inconvenience to the user. With continuous monitoring, there will be much more data to show cardiovascular health trends — allowing for better preventative and acute medical care.

But, as mentioned earlier, the Oura Ring doesn’t currently have the ability to monitor a user’s blood pressure. More than that, other popular health-focused wearables — like the Apple Watch — also lack this feature.

There are some blood pressure-capable smartwatches on the market, including options made by Samsung. Although there are exceptions, most smartwatch blood pressure monitors use a type of optical sensor for their readings.

However, these optical blood pressure sensors don’t provide accurate readings. One study in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine found that the data produced by these types of systems are “insufficient” for medical purposes.

There are exceptions, like the Omron HeartGuide. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Watch, the HeartGuide actually uses an inflatable cuff around your wrist to monitor blood pressure. Like the cuff used at your doctor’s office, this can provide much more accurate readings.

On the flip side, you’re missing out on the deep integration and other health features of more established ecosystems like those made by Samsung, Apple, or Oura. The Omron HeartGuide is a great blood pressure monitor, but it’s not as good of a smartwatch as an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch.

When it comes to smart ring blood pressure monitoring, the landscape is even more dire. As of writing, there doesn’t appear to be any reputable smart rings that can accurately measure a user’s blood pressure without significant tradeoffs.

However, there could be a way forward.

A potential approach for smart ring blood pressure monitoring

blood pressure smart ring

The issue with most smart wearable blood pressure monitors comes down to two things: accuracy and bulk. Optical sensors can fit into small devices like smart rings, but are inaccurate. Cuff-based solutions are more accurate, but are far too cumbersome to work in a form factor like the Oura Ring.

A team of researchers may have developed a solution to both of these issues. In a new study published in npj Digital Medicine, the team notes that a blood pressure monitor using bioimpedance could marry the best of both worlds.

Bioimpedance-based systems overcome the limitations of optical blood pressure sensors and aren’t as affected by skin characteristics, varying skin tones, or skin temperature.

To work, bioimpedance sensors apply a non-invasive and minimal high-frequency alternating current underneath the skin. In other words, it lightly “zaps” your tissue with electricity. From there, it can differentiate between different tissue types based on their unique electrical characteristics.

In this case, the team notes that bioimpedance has successfully been shown to effectively capture arterial blood flow. That is, as along as there’s a suite of sensors aligned with arteries that are making firm contact with the skin.

As a proof of concept, the researchers outlined a method to use an array of bioimpedance sensors in a ring-shaped device. In theory, the type of technology described in this research could easily apply to the Oura Ring or similar devices. Of course, if this type of sensor suite works in a ring form factor, it’ll also work in a smartwatch.

It’s worth pointing out that the team didn’t create an actual smart ring with blood pressure monitoring. Instead, the researchers developed a framework that could make it happen. Because of that, it’s likely that a smart ring with this capability — whether it’s an Oura Ring or not — is still years away.

Additionally, the team that created the framework also noted that the system could be used for purposes other than blood pressure monitoring. One example given is using bioimpedance to monitor body tissue composition.

But what about Apple Watch blood pressure monitoring?

The accuracy problems with most optical-based blood pressure monitoring systems is one reason why the Apple Watch — long a pioneer in this area — has yet to incorporate one.

Back in November, well-reported Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman resurfaced rumors of a blood pressure monitor arriving on the 2024 Apple Watch model. Additionally, the reporter said that the device could incorporate new blood pressure sensor technology. He called it “pathbreaking.”

Reportedly, the feature will be able to alert a user if their blood pressure is trending up. Additionally, it will also offer a journal feature so that the user can keep track of what was occurring when the upward trend happened. The system will also reportedly be able to detect signs of hypertension.

It’s interesting to note that Gurman doesn’t actually describe the sensor technology in question. Given the problems with existing optical-based blood pressure sensors, the likely scenario is that Apple has either developed a new optical system that mitigates these problems, or it’s using a different technology entirely. A technology like bioimpedance.

As a side note, Apple has been exploring novel solutions to blood pressure monitoring in patents. One patent, for example, outlines a way to use fiber optic interferometers to measure blood pressure.

As of the writing of this article, however, it isn’t clear whether Apple is upgrading optical or going with a different technology. What appears to be clear is that the Apple Watch will likely help smartwatch-based blood pressure monitoring take a strong leap into the future.


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