Using a smart ring, Ultrahuman decodes metabolic health


In order to increase its capacity to give tech-loving “biohackers” and, it is hoped, health-conscious Boomers, more comprehensive metabolic insights, Indian fitness platform Ultrahuman is expanding its wearable portfolio by producing a smart ring.

According to CEO and co-founder Mohit Kumar, sensors integrated into the next Ultrahuman Ring include temperature, heart rate, and movement monitors, allowing the gadget to analyze the wearer’s quality of sleep, stress levels, and activity density.

The device is made to work with the startup’s current wearable, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensor-based service it brands “Cyborg,” to deepen the quality of insights for users. For example, by identifying when a poor glucose response might be linked to a poor night’s sleep, say, or elevated stress levels, instead of putting all the focus on whatever it was the user ate right before their blood sugar spike.

Since the smart ring simply slips on the finger as opposed to the CGM, which requires that a spring-loaded filament be fired into the user’s upper arm (and then left in place, “worn” under the skin), the Ultrahuman Ring is not a CGM itself, but it can function as a standalone health tracker, according to Kumar. This gives the fitness startup a chance to increase the appeal of its metabolic tracking service.

The sleek, hefty design of the ring band which is available in glossy metal, titanium, or black is also more likely to appeal to fashion-conscious customers than donning an arm patch reading “Cyborg.”

Pre-orders for The Ultrahuman Ring are now open, and shipments are expected to begin in August.

Pricing hasn’t been made public as of this writing, but the business tells us there will be two options: a monthly subscription option with a very short lock-in period and a one-time premium charge that covers lifelong access.

One ring to put an end to wishful thinking?

In a Zoom chat with TechCrunch, Kumar explained the purpose of the forthcoming smart ring: “The objective is to assist you to learn more about what are the extra elements in your metabolism.” “Right now, with a glucose monitor, you can genuinely comprehend how glucose metabolism functions, but there are many other elements that influence glucose levels, like stress, sleep quality, and activity. These are the significant ones.

He continues, “Today, a lot of this is basically conjecture. But now that we have access to the wearable’s raw data and our own wearable, we can truly determine what was the primary cause of a subpar glucose response. For instance, the platform can now clearly identify what is the contributing element if you are under-recovered due to, say, a lack of sleep and the glucose levels rise. Likewise with a lack of exercise.

Big swings in blood sugar can be linked to health issues like diabetes and heart disease, which encourages people to adopt lifestyle adjustments designed to stabilize their glucose response, such as increasing their amount of physical activity, picking a better diet, and getting enough sleep.

The metabolic fitness tracking service from Ultrahuman essentially sells real-time input to assist people to understand what is happening with their biology. However, we emphasized the relative difficulty for the typical user to decipher their glucose variability data and relate it to certain lifestyle factors when we road-tested its beta version last year as opposed to adopting an overly simplified read of the data.

By enabling Ultrahuman’s platform to track and triangulate a number of indicators, the smart ring appears to be meant to close this interpretation gap and provide the user with a clearer understanding of what causes their glucose peaks and troughs. Alternatively, as Kumar puts it, “If lack of activity is resulting in increased base levels of glucose the platform will be able to interpret that in a lot more effective way.”

In the market for smart rings, Ultrahuman will face off against a number of more seasoned competitors that frequently place a major emphasis on measuring fitness and health. It claims that “optimizing for metabolism” is what makes it wearable unique, and it has the glucose tracking data to prove it (thanks to early users of their CGM-based “Cyborg” wearable).

Different platforms are optimized for various purposes. For instance, Oura is optimized for sleep. Whoop facilitates healing. And here, we’re optimizing for metabolism,” asserts Kumar, citing the use of “more real-time” sensors in Ultrahuman’s data collection as a key technological feature that sets it apart from other smart ring manufacturers.

In addition, he claims that compared to other wearables, “the way we have created the data pointers, the frequency of data pointers, the type of metrics, the real-time-ness of temperature, etc., is more suited towards the metabolism.”

Given that we are examining the metabolic rate and glucose metabolism, the temperature is a much more significant indicator for us. In order to have control over the insights’ correctness as well as the capacity to extract some of these insights that were not achievable with the existing class of wearables, we opted to construct our own wearable.

In order to determine a user-specific stress reaction, Kumar claims that the Ultrahuman Ring monitors stress by taking into account elements such as temperature, heart rate, and HRV (heart rate variability).

He claims that for activity, the goal is to determine “activity density” by examining accelerometer data along with temperature and heart rate in an effort to determine “what zone of activity were you in.”

In order to distinguish between distinct sleep stages, the sleep monitoring feature additionally collects information from activity sensors, temperature, and heart rate (REM, deep sleep, etc).

Although the Ultrahuman Ring is sensor-loaded, it is not yet set up to provide direct feedback at the hardware level (such as through vibrations). However, Kumar claims that haptic nudges and/or smart alarms are features the company plans to introduce in the future.

Two gadgets to either get basic impressions

Behind this second wearable, Ultrahuman decided to use a smart ring rather than, say, a smart band. There are a few reasons for this decision. First of all, it avoids the danger of having to compete for space on the user’s person with current wrist-mounted wearables (like the Apple Watch). However, Kumar adds that research revealed that a ring form factor had the least amount of data fluctuation among all the shapes studied for metrics like temperature, a crucial criterion for accuracy.

The researchers determined that rings had a higher likelihood of being worn constantly and consistently than other styles of wearables. (He affirms that the Ultrahuman’s Ring can withstand being wet in the shower or the pool and has five-day battery life.) The insights will be more potent, he continues, the more data a person has about himself.

If the ring-wearer also wears Ultrahuman’s CGM, insights gathered by the ring’s sensors will be directly linked to their real-time glucose levels (which the Cyborg sensor measures by changes to the interstitial fluid under their arm’s skin). This will allow for the creation of useful connections between glucose variability and lifestyle events that may act as triggers (high stress, poor sleep, low activity levels, etc).
He believes that by combining factors like glucose fluctuation and influence on sleep, “where our strength will be” would be. Or, for instance, how did a late supper and subsequent glucose rise affect your ability to sleep?
Some people can have a late glucose surge and still be pretty much in the [goal sleep] zone, so this is completely OK for them. However, it really has a significant [negative] impact on REM sleep for a lot of people. And occasionally it interferes with their deep sleep as well.
The Ultrahuman smart ring and Cyborg CGM combination could thus power dietary interventions for users who can’t avoid eating late but for whom metabolic tracking has implicated glucose spikes as adversely affecting their sleep quality by, for example, suggesting they choose certain foods that are associated with better sleep (such as tryptophan-rich foods) when they have to have a late meal.
He says, “Those are the insights where we’ll truly be quite special.”
According to Kumar, the product would also approach mobility and exercise suggestions differently from similar goods.
Movement promotes lifespan and the development of the frontal lobes in addition to calorie burning. Additionally, an exercise that involves movement can lower cortisol levels while also increasing [high calorie] expenditure. So, if you look at it from the viewpoint of activity tracking, a lot of our attention will be on mobility.
According to Kumar, an Ultrahuman smart ring user who hasn’t used the device’s upper-arm-mounted CGM sensor yet can still gain some overall advantages. But he stresses that the two wearables working together provide the greatest benefit. “People will be able to comprehend their levels of stress recuperation, mobility, etc., as well as the quality of their sleep. But they must use a CGM to access it if they want to comprehend how all of these elements affect their glucose metabolism. Thus, it is reciprocal, he explains.
By continuing to offer a former Cyborg sensor user-tailored input after their sensor has expired, the ring can also strive to bridge service gaps that will unavoidably damage the Cyborg sensor and so increase the usefulness of its CGM monitoring service. (The Ultrahuman Ring is meant to endure for longer and won’t automatically “expire” in the same manner as the arm-mounted CGMs, which normally last two weeks before they need to be changed, meaning the Cyborg service is stopping unless a fresh sensor is applied.)
“If you only have the ring, the platform will calculate how much walking you should be doing based on your metabolic rate, carbohydrate processing ability, and other factors.” for instance, following a meal,” says Kumar. And it’s feasible since we now know the kind of activity levels that contributed to lowering throughputs. So in many instances, we actually don’t require your CGM data to calculate this output over time.

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