Technology spotlight: Smart rings

One of the technologies showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, CES, was smart rings, seen by various commentators (see also here) as having the potential to compete with and potentially replace smart watches.

The USP of a smart ring suggests immense potential for this technology: a discrete device for controlling other user devices or monitoring health / fitness / wellbeing metrics. Recognising this potential, the CES 2024 Innovation Awards honoured Movano Health for their:

Evie Ring [that] provides trusted health information for every woman at every stage. The ring measures health and wellness metrics including heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, sleep stages, activity levels, and menstrual cycles. (…) Evie's open design accommodates the natural changes in size our bodies go through every day, so it always fits comfortably.


Patent activity in this area is accelerating1. As seen in the following figure, whereas less than 10 patent families were published in 2003, by last year this figure had reached nearly 80.

Figure 1

The top five applicants are Oura Health, Samsung Electronics, Masimo, Covidien, and Philips. The top five countries / filing routes are the US (560 documents over the 2003-2023 period), the PCT (345 documents), Europe (265 documents), China (258 documents), and Japan (169 documents).


Example smart ring patents and patent applications include:

US 10321829 B2 Measuring chronic stress

Claim 1 “A method for measuring stress” is generally directed to providing a prompt when a current stress level (derived from a current heart rate, a current heart rate variability and a current activity level) lies outside of a three-dimensional health space (derived from a notional reference heart rate, a notional reference heart rate variability and a notional reference activity level).

The patent discloses a corresponding apparatus “that is capable of performing the measurement of [heart rate] and [heart rate variability] continuously without requiring the person to follow any measurement protocol”, which comprises “a measuring device” that may take the form of a ring.

EP 3384800 B1 Ring-type wearable device

Claim 1 “A ring-type wearable device” comprising among other features a “sensor unit [that] is a photo sensor including a light-emitting part” and characterized in that “the inner ring member includes a lens configured to control a light radiation distance of the light-emitting part and the lens is disposed in a position corresponding to the light-emitting part and has a thickness corresponding to a thickness of the inner ring member”.

The EPO identified this subject matter as solving the problem of how to “improve the function of the photo sensor disposed in the outer ring member” in a non-obvious manner over the cited prior art.

US 2024/0000387 A1 Finger wearable health monitoring device

Claim 1 “A finger wearable health monitoring device” comprises among other features “sensor electronics [that include] a flexible portion of a circuit board that is opposite the two opposing ends of the circular metal shell”. A corresponding effect is:

Given that the finger wearable device will tend to experience the greatest stress and/or strain at a known location, in some embodiments, the sensor electronics are configured so that a more flexible portion of the sensor electronics is aligned with such a location. For example, a flexible portion of the circuit board is positioned at such a location. For example, the sensor electronics are specifically designed and placed within the circular metal shell such that a flexible portion that connects two pieces of circuit board is aligned with the location of greatest stress/strain (e.g., a position that is opposite of the two opposing ends of the circular metal shell.” (paragraph [0041])

This patent application was filed by Movano and relates to their Evie Ring discussed above.

US 5964701 A Patient monitoring finger ring sensor

An older patent in this space (published on 12 October 1999), claim 1 is directed to “a monitoring system for monitoring the health status of a patient,”. The system comprises a finger ring comprising inter aliaat least one sensor” and “an accelerometer disposed within the finger ring for removing signal artifacts [in signals provided by the at least one sensor] due to finger motion”.

The claimed invention thereby provides a solution to the problem “a major source of interference with sensor readings in wearable physiological sensors is that of artifacts induced in the signal train by motion of the patient”.


As recently reported in The Independent, according to DataHorizzon Research the global smart ring market will be worth an estimated $1.4 billion by 2032, up from $147 million in 2022. As such, smart ring innovators and backers will want an IP strategy in place that aligns with their commercial objectives to protect (and ideally increase) their market share in a growing product market.

While a patent may be the ‘go to’ protection for an invention, for software inventions consideration should be given to trade secrets, particularly where the subject matter may not be eligible for patent protection, or where public disclosure of the subject matter (as required by the patenting process) does not align with commercial interests.

Lastly, it may be possible to protect the appearance of a smart ring through a design registration, providing a complementary form of IP protection to patents and trade secrets.

To find out more about how intellectual property can help you create commercial value from your innovation, please feel free to contact us.


  1. The data in this article is from a search of Espacenet for patent families that (1) are classified under A61B 5/00 Measuring for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons and A61B5/6826 Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient - specially adapted to be attached to or worn on the body surface - finger, and (2) mention “ring” within all text fields.