Crux Labs: Motiv Ring

Many of us have adopted some sort of activity or fitness tracker, like a Fitbit or Apple Watch. What about other devices that aren’t worn on your wrist? Our team decided to try out another type of fitness tracker – The Motiv Ring.

We found out what works well, what was challenging and what fails when your fitness tracker takes the form of a ring.

Interested in what we learned?

Photo courtesy of Motiv Ring

Crux Labs: Motiv Ring

Intro

Wearable tech is a quickly expanding market. The wearables industry has been rolling out new devices at an ever-increasing pace as consumer familiarity and interest increase. Companies are racing to develop devices to rival competitors not just on features but also on aesthetics.

Wearable technology is playing a role in improving health outcomes for wearers. Beyond using devices to improve our health, many people are using wearable devices to manage a specific health condition. A recent Accenture report noted that 90% of their respondents said they would share the data from their wearable device with their healthcare provider. For some people with chronic health conditions, wearable devices can help manage their condition and prevent hospitalization by tracking specific data, allowing proactive intervention. Employers are also starting to incorporate wearable technology into their wellness programs.

The Crux Collaborative staff jumped on the wearable bandwagon early on by tracking our steps with the Fitbit since 2008, and over time have tried other wearable tech including Apple Watch, Garmin, etc. However, with the expansion of the market moving beyond wristbands into other form factors including rings, our team was curious about what a non-wristband experience would be like.

Photo courtesy of Motiv Ring

In particular, we were curious about the new group of wearable ring devices that are more minimalist and less obtrusive. There are a few wearable rings in the marketplace — we choose the Motiv Ring. We decided to dig in and learn more to see how this new type of wearable compared to others we’d used.

NEXT: Key Themes

Key Themes

Wearable Technology Needs To Be Wearable

When designing a wearable device, it’s important to keep the people who will wear it front and center. Having flexibility in where and when you can wear the device is key for full adoption of the technology. People vary greatly, from the activities we want to participate in to the aesthetic that we want to project to the outside world.

Photo courtesy of Motiv Ring

Hands, in particular pose unique challenges when it comes to wearables. Hands, and particularly fingers, can swell and change size over the course of a day or throughout the month. For some of our participants, rings that they already wear limited the available fingers for the Motiv Ring. Wearing rings during certain activities or in certain work environments is dangerous and sometimes forbidden due to the potential for serious injury.

Whatever your device, it needs to be comfortable to wear and not impede what the wearer wants to do.

Expectations and Minimum Viable Product

Innovating in the wearable fitness tracker category which has solidly established itself in the current marketplace is tricky. Consumers who have used wearable fitness tracking devices have expectations about how they should work and what details they should track.

A wearable device rolling out today has to take the expectations of the existing marketplace into account. Consumers are accustomed to the added features and functionality that other devices have rolled out over time. Introducing a new device that falls short of those expectations makes it unlikely that it will do well in the marketplace.

NEXT: What did we Learn about Motiv Ring?

What did we Learn about Motiv Ring?

While the marketing would indicate that it is for athletes and those with a very active lifestyle, the reality of the device is that it is more of a basic activity tracker and best for steps and sleep tracking.

If you are someone who wants a wearable to provide data to help you train for an event, or who works out regularly and wants to track your progress, the Motiv Ring doesn’t offer much in the way of meaningful support. While it has more recently added the ability to integrate with other apps like Apple Health and Google Fit, it doesn’t allow the user to visualize any information in real-time or over longer periods of time.

The Motiv Ring is more of a basic activity tracker and best for steps and sleep tracking.

As time passed, we used the device to varying degrees of success. Most of us stopped using the device all together after a month. Only one of us still uses the device regularly.

NEXT: Our Experience with Motiv Ring

Our Experience with Motiv Ring

Expectations

When first introduced to the concept of the Motiv Ring, most of us were intrigued by the device and were excited to try it out. In particular, the ability to use it in ways we were not able to use our current fitness tracking devices (such as in a swimming pool) were very appealing.

All of us had used some sort of fitness tracker in the past and had expectations about how a device like this should work.

Ordering and Initial Set Up

Upon ordering the Motiv Ring, you receive a sizing set in the mail, so you can determine the size of your actual ring. The sizing set was very well designed with seven model ring sizes to choose from and had easy to follow instructions. Considering the ring format, it was helpful to be advised to wear the sizing ring for a bit before deciding on a size to make sure it would work as your fingers change throughout the day. Some participants found the size range limited (several participants didn’t have options that would fit all of their fingers – on both ends of the sizing spectrum).

In terms of a first introduction to a product and concept, the sizing set was impressive and engendered high hopes for the delivery of the actual ring.

The sizing set was very well designed and engendered high hopes for the delivery of the actual ring.

When we received the actual rings themselves, we felt the packaging was not as well designed as the sizing set. The box was difficult to open, the visual cues were not as clear and prominent. For example, it wasn’t clear that there were additional pieces (the chargers) under the piece the held the ring.

By and large, initial set up and connection with the app was simple and intuitive. In comparison to other wearable devices we were familiar with, the ring required a lot of time to charge after coming out of the box. From an expectation setting standpoint, this felt like a disappointment right out of the gate as most other devices ship with enough charge to be set up upon receipt or charge more quickly.

Photo courtesy of Motiv Ring

Wearing

We had mixed feelings about the ring format - some of us really enjoyed it and others found it problematic.

For those who already wore rings, finding a finger for the Motiv Ring was more difficult as it is not recommended to wear the Motiv Ring on your thumb or pinky.

Many people experience fluctuations in their body over the course of a day and, for women, throughout the month. One participant had a horrific experience of fingers swelling overnight and not being able to get the ring off after wearing the ring for a few days. She had to have her husband forcefully (and painfully) pull the ring off of her finger resulting in bruising. Needless to say, she stopped wearing it after that experience. While that example may seem extreme, those type of fluctuations in the human body are not uncommon and can’t necessarily be mitigated by wearing the sizing ring for a day or two.

Tracking

Those of us who were used to wearing a device while we worked out and to track exercise felt the device fell short of our expectations. The ring doesn’t automatically detect exercise, unlike other devices we are used to using. When tracking activity, the user is required to input the activity and effort manually via the Motiv App and the input controls provided to do that are cumbersome and unintuitive. So, if you go to spin class, the ring won’t recognize your activity unless you open the app and manually enter it. All of us expected our activity to be recognized and recorded – or at a minimum to be asked to verify or edit information-similar functionality to what we’re used to with other devices.

While the app does occasionally ask you if you were active during a given time period, most of us found that the “detection” of activity was faulty or odd and didn’t correlate with our actual activity or exercise.

There is no display on the ring, so it can’t notify you or provide real-time information about your heart rate zones; a metric that is key for effective training for many people who exercise regularly.

The Motiv Ring focuses on a primary metric of Active Minutes. Unfortunately, after logging activity, the ‘Active Minutes’ can make it seem like you’ve done very little. For example, a 60-minute spin class registered as 24 ‘Active’ minutes.

There is no display on the ring to provide real-time information about your heart rate zones while exercising.

The ring doesn’t track anything when it’s not on your finger. Other devices will still track things like steps even if they’re not worn as intended. For example, if you’re on a treadmill walking work station, where your arms aren’t necessarily moving as you walk, you can put your Fitbit in your pocket and it will still count steps.

The app allows the user to see the current week's details for sleep and resting heart rate. A user cannot view their heart rate details over the course of the day or over a longer timeframe than a single week. The app displays high-level sleep information for the current week, but again, you cannot view that data over a longer timeframe. There is no way to view aggregate work out details to view progress over time.

It’s clearly an activity tracker, but not necessarily suitable for someone who is serious about tracking exercise regularly.

NEXT: What did we like?

What did we like?

Form Factor

We liked the ring as an option because it was smaller than other devices we’ve used, more comfortable to wear when sleeping, and could be worn while swimming. It also didn’t scream “fitness tracking device” for those of us who prefer to be more circumspect with our health tracking.

Sleep Tracking

Most of us liked using the Motiv Ring to track our sleep. The size of wrist worn trackers like the Fitbit and Apple Watch are less comfortable to wear while sleeping. One person noted that the light from the Fitbit’s heart rate sensor would occasionally wake her up, which didn’t happen with the Motiv Ring.

Impressive Technology

The device is quite small and unobtrusive for what it does. The ring includes a heart rate sensor and accelerometer and remains charged for roughly three days. That’s an impressive technological achievement for a device of this size.

Photo courtesy of Motiv Ring

NEXT: What didn’t we like?

What didn’t we like?

Activity Tracking

At times, the app will ask the user ‘were you active?’, but the device doesn’t automatically detect activity (either via increased heart rate or the accelerometer detecting movement). Some reports indicate that this is on Motiv’s to-do list for upcoming improvements to the software.

Entering activity, which consists of adding three details (timeframe, activity, and intensity), was remarkably cumbersome and required the use of inefficient UI controls.

UI Control 1

The double ended slider is a very complex UI device on a small screen. It is difficult to move the start and end times effectively.

UI Control 2

The user selects the type of activity by pressing the Activity area and selecting from a list of options displayed in a spinner UI control.

UI Control 3

Entering the level of effort uses another type of slider that allows the user to choose one of five options.

Inability to View, Track, and Compare Details Over Time

The data from the Motiv Ring can only be viewed by the day and, in some cases, the current week. There’s no ability to view the details over time to see how any given metric has improved.

Wear and Tear

Since the Motive Ring is on your hand, it comes into contact with a lot of everyday items, much more so than wristband or face of a wrist-worn tracker. Some of us found that everyday activities resulted in the finish of the ring scratching.

everyday activities resulted in the finish of the ring scratching.

NEXT: Key considerations for wearable tech

Key considerations for wearable tech

Clarify Your Target Market

The consumer base for wearable fitness trackers is substantial and not all of those consumers have the same needs. Figuring out where your device fits in that mix and effectively and accurately marketing to that target market is key.

Make sure that your device does what your marketing claims that it does.

Photo courtesy of Motiv Ring

Consider Different Scenarios

It’s important to consider the things your consumer will want to do while wearing your device to make sure it will meet their needs. Additionally, it’s critical to understand how consumers will wear your device and how/if that will work for a variety of body types.

A ring is a somewhat surprising choice for a fitness tracker since conventional wisdom and a good number of ER doctors will encourage you to avoid wearing rings during activities where you could suffer an injury and end up swelling (such as weight lifting) or where a ring could get stuck and ‘deglove’ the wearer’s finger, like during rock climbing or walking in your kitchen if you’re Jimmy Fallon (google this only if you have a strong stomach).

Consider the Existing Market Expectations

Users who are accustomed to existing wearable technology and products have developed baseline expectations about what will be tracked and how. When introducing a new product into this space, it’s critical to provide equivalent functionality that users consider table stakes. Most users of the Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch or equivalent fitness tracking devices have grown to expect certain activities to be automatically detected and logged. These products also have easy ways for users to manually enter activity or update/customize auto-detected activity.

Photos courtesy of Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple

Make Data Meaningful

The reason for having a fitness tracker is to have access to and use the data that the tracking provides. Consider the key ways individuals can monitor their overall health and fitness and ensure that your product provides the relevant information to accomplish these objectives.

NEXT: UX considerations for wearable technology

Key considerations for wearable tech

Data Displays

Make sure you have a way to provide feedback that is meaningful to users as they wear the device and when reviewing details after the fact. For example, providing some haptic feedback to alert the user to move throughout the day after being sedentary for a period of time or having the device buzz when the user has entered a new heart rate zone.

Consistent UI Controls

Make sure UI controls are consistent throughout the experience and that you’re choosing the most efficient input method for the data point your asking of the user.

Comfort and Wearability

If the successful use of your product requires consistent use or wear, ensure that the product accommodates a wide range of body types and usage. In addition, consider the circumstances in which the product will be used (for example, under water) and work to match the form factor and intended use.

NEXT: Nerdy research details

Nerdy research details

Methodology

  • Crux Collaborative’s seven staff members were each given a Motiv Ring sizing kit and were asked to order a ring and wear it for a month.
  • Staff were asked to record their impressions throughout their experience of the product.
  • Each staff member was interviewed one-on-one about their experience with the product.

Our Objectives: What did we set out to learn?

  1. The pros and cons of an activity tracker without a visible screen?
  2. How and when is an activity tracker useful?
  3. How and when does an activity tracker fail to meet expectations?
View all Crux Labs Research