Forget Smartwatches, In 2015, when Apple unveiled its smartwatch, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to fund the creation of a completely different wearable device – a health-tracking band called the Oura.

Seven years more later 7 years later, seven years later, the Apple Watch is the most well-known wearable device, and other similar products made by Google and Samsung are also dominating the market for wearables. But something new is happening with products such as Oura, which appear and function in some cases quite different from the more common wearables and are seeing renewed interest.

Oura Ring ($399) saw a surge in sales during the pandemic and is expected to continue to grow during the holiday season, Oura CEO Tom Hale told CNN Business. It tracks sleep without the need to wear a watch and can detect small variations in body temperatures. It is also not equipped with a screen. In the spring of this year, the company announced that it was awarded a $2.55 billion valuation. The company has since partnered with Gucci, Strava, and other brands.

The ring is part of an increasingly popular category of wearable devices that are gaining popularity at the moment, such as the fitness band tracker that has no display and headphones that don’t have to be placed in the ear. The demand for the ring is derived from changes during the outbreak; as the interest of consumers in health monitoring was on the rise. Many turned to activity trackers, smartwatches, and various other gadgets to maintain track of their daily steps, vital statistics, and others. They were also open to trying different forms, as they had precise data and were comfortable – an attitude that continues to this day.

The Oura rings

“The interesting thing is that the majority of these gadgets are around for quite some time, but they have gradually made an image in the past few months,” said Ramon Llamas, a director of research at IDC Research. “But the process takes time to allow word-of-mouth to be spread.”

These devices could also be a way for people to reap the benefits of wearable trackers without needing an electronic device or screen on their bodies all the time.

You can use your WHOOP bracelet, a fitness tracker that does not have a screen. It first appeared in the year 2015. It is a device with a specific concentration on recovery from workouts and rests time, as well as the training process and coach. Its CEO and founder, Will Ahmed, told CNN Business last year’s Cyber Monday was its largest sales day ever.

“It was not that long ago that people carried a health check-up if something was wrong. Nowadays, people are taking an active approach to health,” the doctor said. “This trend is continuing even after the pandemic has subsided.”

Similar to Oura Like, the WHOOP is a subscription-based app aimed at an audience that is more niche. It’s also expensive, with a $480 that includes the two-year plan.

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The WHOOP band

Forget Smartwatches
The WHOOP band

“The issue is that a lot of these devices are competing for a single-digit share of the market, which is behind the market leaders such, for example, Apple and Samsung to name a few],” Llamas said. “That’s why it’s crucial to differentiate your market that you can serve entirely. Companies such as WHOOP have had success because they focus on healing and rest, which are crucial for today’s athletes.”

Ahmed said that the product is evolving to accommodate this increasing interest in health by adding new features to stress, pregnancy, and more thorough biometric monitoring. The company announced in August that WHOOP disclosed that they had raised $200 million in a round of funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, making the company investment $3.6 billion.

Health trackers continue to come in new sizes and shapes, as well as ones that don’t need to be wearable. The first time they were introduced was in September. Amazon unveiled a non-wearable monitor for sleep, the Halo Rise, that sits on a nightstand and records breathing patterns when the user is asleep. Some companies, like Withings, permit users to put sensors on their mattresses to gather sleep data.

There’s also a change in the interest for what’s arguably one of the first devices for wear invented: headphones.

Bone conduction headphones, like the Oura, have been in use for a long time and are “having some sort of moment,” according to Steve Konig, the head of the department of research at the Consumer Electronics Association. Instead of sitting in or over the canal of your ear, the bone conduction headphones are placed on the ear and leave it open. They transmit sound through the jaw bone and bones to the ear and not directly through the canal of your ear. The headphones also come with a soft band through the upper part of the neck to hold the device in place and reduce distortions in sound.

Bone conduction headphones from Shokz

Bone conduction headphones from Shokz
Forget Smartwatches

However, the ear’s openness allows users to be aware of sounds and the surroundings, which is crucial to security when performing activities like riding bikes or running. In contrast to earbuds, there’s less worry about it popping from your ears.

Shokz ($125) was the first to introduce bone-conduction headphones. However, the market has expanded with different brands offering similar models. Open earbuds – like those made by Sony and Bose are similar to the design that allows the ear canals fully open to ensure that the user can hear all the noise outside. Some audiophiles claim that the sound produced by bone-conduction headphones and open earbuds could be better.

“In the past decade, audio innovation generally has grown exponentially due to the introduction of innovative features like noise cancellation technology integrated wireless capabilities, built-in wireless technology, and much more,” Konig said. “Now we have people who own several personal listening devices suited to different environments and cases. Some even put them in their office, while others choose more powerful, larger ones for planes. They’re also an excellent Christmas present since they’re giving gifts they’re relatively affordable to purchase.”

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