Ōuraring squeezed a wellness device into a design jewel

Oura_Ring_main_photoŌuraring Ōuraring created a mini-computer inside a ring, which collects raw data about heart rate, measures the amount and intensity of physical activity, and analyses the quality of sleep.

How to obtain a constant flow of information from the body without having to bind the person into sensors? CEO Petteri Lahtela and CTO and Head of Design Kari Kivelä from Ōuraring decided to combine style and wellbeing intelligence into a product many of us already wear: a ring.

”Fitting technology into such a small piece was a huge challenge. We got started deeming it possible,” says Lahtela.

The idea of a new type of a wearable technology product stemmed from the entrepreneurs’ personal experiences. Having had hectic careers in the technology industry, they wanted to create something that would help people listen to their own body and maintain its balance.

The group started researching what was available in the market. Heart rate monitors and different types of sensors tended to have two similar issues: they are often impractical to use and not very stylish to wear. Lahtela points out that it’s impossible to wear a heart rate band all the time.

”From the very beginning we’ve wanted to create a product that is as convenient as possible to as many people as possible,” adds Kivelä.

Ōuraring collects raw data about heart rate and its changes, measures the amount and intensity of physical activity, and analyses the quality of sleep and its different stages. Using algorithms the mini-computer interprets the body’s reactions and their changes, and sends the information to the mobile app. From the app users find information about their readiness level and get advice as to how to improve it.

”The ring listens to the body, and the app then gives guidance in words and visual cues,” Lahtela explains.

The intelligence hides under a beautiful cover

CTO and Head of Design Kivelä is not only an engineer, but also a jewellery designer. The ring is designed by him and renowned Finnish industrial designer Harri Koskinen.

”The timing has been perfect for us, as for example components have become available just at the right time. In comparison to the first sketches the ring is now more compact and stylish,” he says.

”The market for wearables is growing at a fast pace. Health care systems will change so that individuals will begin to take more and more responsibility over their personal wellbeing,” CEO Petteri Lahtela predicts. (Photo: Ōuraring)

OURA_CEO_Petteri_LahtelaIn the beginning the most crucial feature was the measuring of heart rate and related parametres. Other sensors joined in later, and now the main aim of the ring is to help improve recovery. As the ring is waterproof and its battery lasts for days, it can be worn all day long. Hence it learns to give personalised advice for each individual.

Many dimensions of human life starting from social interaction have already gone online. Lahtela and Kivelä don’t think the ring is now technologising wellbeing, too.

“Quite the contrary; the ring helps its user understand his or her body even better. With the information we can pay attention to our mental and physical readiness, and try and maintain them at the highest possible level,” says Lahtela.

The ring doesn’t claim to know its user’s emotions better than the person.

”The app occasionally asks different types of questions about how the user is actually feeling. Then it combines these feelings with physiology and behaviour,” tells Kivelä.

On the way across the ocean

The ring was launched at a startup fair in San Francisco in early March. For consumers the product will be available in September.

The ring partners with a mobile app which gives users information about their readiness level and advice as to how to improve it. (Photo: Ōuraring)

OURA_ring_appŌuraring is headed to the United States, where wearable technology is of particular interest.

”The market for wearables is growing at a fast pace. Health care systems will change so that individuals will begin to take more and more responsibility over their personal wellbeing,” Lahtela predicts.

In Finland the company is registered under the name Jouzen, but in international marketing only the Ōura brand and the name Ōuraring will be visible. In addition to the headquarters in Oulu, the company has one person working in Helsinki, one in Japan and one in San Francisco. The now 11-employee team is growing continuously.

The product development takes place in Oulu, and the production itself happens in Haukipudas, 20 kilometres away from the headquarters. The covers and circuit boards are produced in South Korea.

”The ring is a premium product, and for us it’s crucial to be able to guarantee top-notch quality on every level. We don’t cut corners at any stage,” says Lahtela.

Text: Anne Salomäki
Good News from Finland 

Finnish innovation protects from water damage

Watector_CEO_jani_alatainio 1Watector Jani Alatainio got the idea for a new kind of water leakage sensor when working in the construction and real estate industry and seeing what kind of havoc water damage can cause.

Leaking taps, flooding dishwashers, broken pipes… Water damages are a not only a common and costly problem, but cause a potential health risk. Finnish innovation aims to put them into history.

Jani Alatainio is a happy man. After three years of development, his patented water leakage detector has finally gone on sale and it’s flying off virtual shelves.

“My background is in real estate and construction and over the years I have seen water damage of all shapes and sizes,” says Alatainio, CEO of NWD Technologies, the company he founded in 2012 to develop the product. “I have seen how common they are and statistics show they are only getting more frequent. This is how I got the idea for a new kind of alarm system that can be fit to any space.”

Watector is a water leakage indicator which consists of two parts: a sensor mat created with printable electronics and an alarm unit. The sensor mat comes in a 50×50 centimetre square, but is deceptively versatile. It can be cut to almost any shape and placed wherever there is a risk of leakage, such as under a washing machine or in a kitchen sink cupboard.

If any of the sensors detect water or dampness on the mat, the attached alarm unit is alerted and sounds in a manner similar to a smoke detector.

“The benefit of our alarm is that especially difficult and concealed leakage can be discovered before it causes wide damage,” Alatainio explains. “It has been received very positively.”

Finnish flare

In isolation dampness and/or water leakage detectors aren’t a completely new innovation, but until now they have had one significant handicap: size.

The Watector water leakage sensor consists of a sensor mat and an alarm unit. The mat can be cut to any shape and size with normal scissors and it detects if there is any dampness or water on its surface. (Photo: Watector)

Watector_product_small 2“Typically water alarms only measure a very limited area, about the size of a thumb. Our mat can cover a much larger area which is a clear benefit,” says Alatainio.  “According to the novelty examinations we have conducted there is nothing like our product, even internationally.”

Another benefit is that Watector is easy to install and it doesn’t require any special expertise or tools. The sensor mat can be cut to the desired shaped with scissors and after the alarm unit is attached to it, the product is ready to go. As an added perk, the mat is completely recyclable.

The product has been patented in Finland and protected with an EU-wide trademark, while the international patent process is underway.

Global problem

Of course water damage isn’t only a problem in Finland and since its launch in Mid-February, Watector has sparked enquiries from many countries, including the US.

“We did market studies early on and there is clear international demand for this product,” Alatainio says. “Our first step is to go the other Nordic countries and then expand to further parts of Europe and the US.”

While the company’s current focus is on market expansion, the roadmap also includes further development of the product to meet the needs of the retail and construction industry. Alatainio gives the example of Watector eventually being integrated directly into kitchen furniture.

Plans of this scale mean growing what is currently a one-man company. Alatainio has come far by the means of cooperation and outsourcing (even the product name and prototype packaging were finalised using a student project), but this is not enough for a company aiming to take over international markets.

“I’ll definitely start to hire more people, there is no way I can keep doing this alone,” Alatainio says with a laugh.

Waterctor 3jpgIt could be a watershed moment for NWD Technologies.

Water damage isn’t only a problem in Finland and since Watector’s launch in Mid-February, it has sparked enquiries from many countries, including the US. (Photo: iStock/Ekspansio)

Text: Eeva Haaramo
Good News from Finland