Journal of Medical Internet Research; Rui Cao, Iman Azimi, Fatemeh Sarhaddi, Hannakaisa Niela-Vilen, Anna Axelin, Pasi Liljeberg, Amir M. Rahmani; 2022 Jan. 18; PMID: 35040799; DOI: 10.2196/27487.


Background: Photoplethysmography is a noninvasive and low-cost method to remotely and continuously track vital signs. The Oura Ring is a compact photoplethysmography-based smart ring, which has recently drawn attention to remote health monitoring and wellness applications. The ring is used to acquire nocturnal heart rate (HR) and HR variability (HRV) parameters ubiquitously. However, these parameters are highly susceptible to motion artifacts and environmental noise. Therefore, a validity assessment of the parameters is required in everyday settings.

Objective: This study aims to evaluate the accuracy of HR and time domain and frequency domain HRV parameters collected by the Oura Ring against a medical grade chest electrocardiogram monitor.

Methods: We conducted overnight home-based monitoring using an Oura Ring and a Shimmer3 electrocardiogram device. The nocturnal HR and HRV parameters of 35 healthy individuals were collected and assessed. We evaluated the parameters within 2 tests, that is, values collected from 5-minute recordings (ie, short-term HRV analysis) and the average values per night sleep. A linear regression method, the Pearson correlation coefficient, and the Bland-Altman plot were used to compare the measurements of the 2 devices.

Results: Our findings showed low mean biases of the HR and HRV parameters collected by the Oura Ring in both the 5-minute and average-per-night tests. In the 5-minute test, the error variances of the parameters were different. The parameters provided by the Oura Ring dashboard (ie, HR and root mean square of successive differences [RMSSD]) showed relatively low error variance compared with the HRV parameters extracted from the normal interbeat interval signals. The Pearson correlation coefficient tests (P<.001) indicated that HR, RMSSD, average of normal heart beat intervals (AVNN), and percentage of successive normal beat-to-beat intervals that differ by more than 50 ms (pNN50) had high positive correlations with the baseline values; SD of normal beat-to-beat intervals (SDNN) and high frequency (HF) had moderate positive correlations, and low frequency (LF) and LF:HF ratio had low positive correlations. The HR, RMSSD, AVNN, and pNN50 had narrow 95% CIs; however, SDNN, LF, HF, and LF:HF ratio had relatively wider 95% CIs. In contrast, the average-per-night test showed that the HR, RMSSD, SDNN, AVNN, pNN50, LF, and HF had high positive relationships (P<.001), and the LF:HF ratio had a moderate positive relationship (P<.001). The average-per-night test also indicated considerably lower error variances than the 5-minute test for the parameters.

Conclusions: The Oura Ring could accurately measure nocturnal HR and RMSSD in both the 5-minute and average-per-night tests. It provided acceptable nocturnal AVNN, pNN50, HF, and SDNN accuracy in the average-per-night test but not in the 5-minute test. In contrast, the LF and LF:HF ratio of the ring had high error rates in both tests.