Fitness trackers are a dime a dozen at this point, with Fitbit dominating the market. But as long as wearable gadgets have been in vogue, the concept of a "smart ring" has made the rounds in various forms. Here at CES, it looks like Motiv is the closest yet to cracking the puzzle of building a ring that's worth wearing. Motiv's ring is basically a tiny Fitbit: It packs in a heart rate sensor and can track your steps, sleep and "active minutes" with a goal of getting its users to be active for at least 150 minutes per week.
The ring itself is light, fairly unobtrusive and comes in gray and rose gold. Motiv says its has an "ultralight titanium shell" that felt a little cheap to me -- hopefully it'll prove to be durable. The battery uses an included magnetic charging dock that plugs into any standard USB port; Motiv is actually including two so you can throw one on your keychain and forget about it.
Naturally, the ring syncs to a smartphone app, where you can get data on what it measures. The ring has heart rate tracking built in; that's how it knows when you're working out hard enough to count minutes toward your daily activity goal. A Motiv spokesperson told Engadget that the ring uses active minutes because it's a less abstract goal than 10,000 steps or a certain amount of calories burned, and it does seem like something with the potential to encourage slightly more active exercise. But it also works as a pedometer if you're used to tracking steps over other metrics.
All of this data is stored in the app, which uses a card interface to keep you updated on your goals, showing you high-level overviews of your day and week. If you want to dig into the data, though, the app lets you scan minute by minute to see exactly what were you up to, whether you were awake or asleep.
My big question about the Motiv is its manufacturing feasibility. We've been burned by smart rings before that couldn't figure out the battery tech necessary to work. Motiv's spokesperson told me that the company designed its curved battery itself; he also said that the device is in production after a lengthy beta period. The model he was wearing appeared to be functional, so it seems like the ring should make it to market this spring as planned.
If you're interested and willing to take a bit of a gamble on an unproven company, pre-orders for the $199 Motiv started today. To get the sizing right, Motiv will send buyers a kit with fake rings in it so they can try them on and see what fits best. The Motiv may not do anything differently than the Fitbit, but if you're interested in having an extremely low-profile device, this may be worth a look. Of course, we'll need to put one through a full review to recommend it, but on the surface the Motiv is intriguing at the least.Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.