Oura Ring 4 looks set to put a handy smartphone feature on your finger

 Oura Ring broadcasting a wireless signal
Oura Ring broadcasting a wireless signal

The next Oura Ring could offer contactless payments just like a smartwatch or smartphone, a recent blog post has strongly hinted.

The post, published May 9, announced that Oura had acquired Proxy, a company which has created a “digital identity signal platform”. This is a secure service that provides not only contactless payment features for wearables like the best smartwatches, but other contactless security services such as keycards.

In the blog post, Oura CEO Tom Hale said “We are thrilled to collaborate with the innovative Proxy team to expand our addressable market, paving the way for new opportunities in areas such as payments, access, security, identity, and beyond.”

The mention of payment there is key, as it likely means you’ll either be able to access features on your phone such as Google Wallet or Apple Pay, and use them via the Oura Ring, or that Oura will feature its own wallet service, which will allow you to save your cards in-app and use them with the ring.

How it’s all going to work is unclear, but given that the acquisition has only just been announced, we’re unlikely to see this feature emerge as a patch for the current Oura Ring Generation 3, even though it’s top of our list of the best sleep trackers. We’ll probably have to wait for the Oura Ring 4, but it’s a sign that Oura is moving away from a strictly wearables-based device into more general smart-device territory.

Analysis: ringing in the new generation of wearables

Oura (Generation 3) smart ring in silver
Oura (Generation 3) smart ring in silver

The Oura Ring Generation 3 is a seriously good, albeit expensive, bit of kit. Its algorithms are sophisticated, and its sleep and recovery tracking are second to none. Due to its lack of a screen (which we welcomed when we tried it) it’s pretty much strictly a wellness-related wearable, quietly collecting information rather than announcing itself with constant notifications.

This latest acquisition by Oura, and the announcement of its intentions to incorporate payment and security technology, shows a shift away from fitness towards general smart wear. It makes sense, of course, for a quick swipe of your ring to allow you to pass through the subway or tube station instead of fumbling with your wallet or phone.

It’s a step removed from the truly committed who get microchips in their hands or tattoos of QR codes, but it’s a sign of our creeping cyborg-ization all the same.

I wonder whether Oura will be looking into other smart features, such as optional haptic notifications through the ring, or even (depending on how small Oura can get the technology) some onboard GPS so you can more effectively track runs without your phone, like the best running watches. Watch this space.