The Oura Ring is evolving!
With the recent app update bringing meditation 'Moments' to Oura Ring users, the company have transitioned their smart ring from being a sleep and activity tracker - tracking data and providing recommendations and feedback - to providing more user interaction, more insights about ones' health and a tool to help users with their meditation practice.
The new 'Moments' feature in the Oura Ring app is a mindfulness/meditation/body awareness feature that allows Oura Ring users to tap into the power of the Oura's sensors, and use this data to help them with their meditation and mindfullness practice, or to simly learn more about their body in real time.
So how does it work? And is Oura's new meditation feature (which they have named 'Moments') a decent upgrade - something that will appeal to meditation users? Or is it simply an add on gimmick?
After playing around with the new feature I can confidently say that the Oura Ring Moments feature is quite impressive. Meditation and biohacker users out there will be impressed with what Oura have developed.
Read on for my full Oura Ring Moments review.
Written by: David Baker - Chief Tech Reviewer & Head of Multimedia at AlexFergus.com
David is passionate about combining science and technology to optimise his health and performance.
In May of 2019 Oura added an interesting new feature to its wildly successful biomentric and sleep tracking product called, “Moment”. Following the mindfulness meditation trend sweeping the wellness world, Oura is giving its users a way to quickly and easily tap into the health benefits of mindfulness.
As of July 2019, the ‘Moment’ feature is still only available for iOS (iPhone) users, but an update to the Android app is apparently in the works later in 2019. I decided to take a dive into the new feature and see what Oura is offering, and whether this new feature is a gimmick, or a truly useful tool.
I’d like to consider myself experienced with using technology to aid in meditation. I’ve been using a Muse 2 headband daily for several months and have racked up over 3,300 minutes of meditation time with the product.
Note - if you are new to the Oura Ring, be sure to read my comprehensive review of the Oura Ring here.
The Moment feature is easily accessible from the main Oura dashboard via the plus icon. Tapping on this brings up a couple of neat options:
From this mini-menu you can jot down a note about how you’re currently feeling, log an activity, and now take a ‘Moment’. Opening the new Moment feature will present you with a couple of options:
The three options are:
Both Presence and Rest allow you to choose either a guided or timed unguided session:
If you decide to go it alone with an unguided session, you can select a desired duration and soundscape. Oura has done a great job here curating a wide array of soundscapes. The soundscapes are high quality recordings and any looping is barely detectable (I tried to find it!):
The app allows you to disable your mobile phone’s auto-lock, which is handy as the session displays a countdown timer during the session. If you feel restless and want to check how much time you have left, you can peek and eye open and see.
I found that the forest floor soundscape was the most realistic and immersive, with crunching branches and rustling leaves. The “at the station” legitimately sounds like you are in a subway or unground station, with random city noises. Oura also gives the option of “In silence” if you don’t want to use any soundscape at all.
I liked the entire soundscape collection and wished that Muse would refresh and update their own soundscapes, as the five they offer have begun to get a bit stale.
If you decide on an unguided session with either Presence or Rest, you then pick the duration of the session you’d like to do:
The longer sessions (3 minutes and longer) will report back both heart rate and HRV. Timed sessions shorter than 3 minutes will only report back heart rate data.
The Rest options are identical to the Presence settings:
All three modes report back the same types of information afterwards, and all three give users the same timed/unguided or guided options.
All the soundscapes are available across all three modes as well. After using the Moment feature for a while, I began to wonder why Oura decided to break the three sections down the way they did.
All three types of Moment could be reached through a single interface.
The app doesn’t appear to really graph or make use of the type of Moment activity you choose. The only difference found is with the Body status, which doesn’t have a guided/unguided option:
The guided sessions are extremely high-fidelity audio, better in fact than that found on the Muse platform. The instructions reminded me of basic Zazen (Zen) mindfulness or rudimentary Vipassina meditation techniques. In fact, I found the meditation style being coached very similar to what I already do myself.
One nice touch that Oura includes in the guided sessions is an intermittent chime during long periods of silence from the guide. This chime serves to remind you to bring your attention back to the breath. This isn’t all that different from the process of “Checking In” found in advanced meditation practices such as “The Mind: Illuminated” by John Yates, PhD.
Typically, I’m not a big guided meditation user but I found these guided sessions to be very straightforward. For someone brand new to meditation, the concepts and techniques presented by Moment could be considered “core fundamentals”. Even I found usefulness in being reminded of the basics.
Once the session is done Oura takes a few minutes to prepare your post-session graphs:
It’s interesting to see what mindfulness and breathing can do to not only my heart rate, but my HRV as well. Once the results are ready, you’re shown both data sets:
Along the bottom is a button that lets you choose an icon to indicate how you felt once the session concluded. In the session above, I did feel more at calm and at peace. I selected the “Better than usual” option.
You also have the option to delete the session you just did by selecting the “Delete session’ button.
From the main Moment menu, you can easily access your past session history by hitting the clock icon in the upper right corner. This will show you each Moment session you’ve done, along with HRV or heart rate averages:
I found the inclusion of the HR/HRV averages a nice touch. At a quick glance, I’m able to see how I did on any Moment session.
I also thought that the inclusion of the “How do you feel?” response was clever and handy, too. The history allows me to look for trends or keep tabs on my mindfulness.
One exciting thing I’ve been experimenting with is using both the Oura Moment feature alongside my Muse headband. I’m happy to report that both apps can run at the same time without any Bluetooth connection problems.
With the Muse, I’m getting brainwave readings while the Oura keeps tabs on my heart rate and HRV data.
Oura’s done a great job with their mindfulness/meditation feature. There isn’t a lot here to not complain about. When stacked up against the only other platform that offers similar functionality (the Biostrap), Oura’s clean interface and high-quality guided sessions place it on top.
While the Moment feature is free for Oura iOS users - existing and new, Biostrap users are required to subscribe to a service at additional cost to access meditation soundscapes.
The app makes taking a quick reading while sitting at a desk or couch easy, and the option of an “on demand” body check is one feature I’m glad to see Oura incorporating.
Moving forward, I’m excited to see where Oura takes their Moment feature and hope to see additional guided sessions offered. All in all, Oura’s implementation isn’t a half-baked and tacked on feature, but rather a valuable addition to already powerful platform.
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