Oura’s Symptom Radar feature detects early health changes

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The Oura Ring is getting a bit more experimental. Starting today, Oura users will get access to a new Oura Labs feature, which allows them to opt in to experimental features. The first will be something called Symptom Radar, which detects early signs of physiological strain.

Symptom Radar isn’t quite illness detection — a feature that Oura and many other wearables companies put a lot of research into during the early days of the covid-19 pandemic. Instead, it notifies users of significant changes in biometric trends like temperature, respiratory rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. When alerted, users can choose whether to enable Rest Mode or lower their daily activity goal to prioritize rest. While illness could potentially trigger an alert, so could many other factors, like a rough workout or several nights of poor rest.

Symptom Radar isn’t quite illness detection, but it’s aimed at giving you a heads-up when strain is detected.
Image: Oura

It makes sense that Oura is being cautious with how it’s billing this feature. As you can see in the screenshot, the company states that it’s “not a diagnostic feature” and that the goal is to help you better understand your body’s signals. The former would involve getting clearance from the FDA. The latter is considered wellness and general education, which fall outside of the FDA’s purview. Still, that’s not to say illness detection is completely off the table. In a bid to drum up excitement for large-scale illness monitoring, the company released a study last year that found covid-19 symptoms impacted biometrics weeks after infection.

The features included in Oura Labs, including Symptom Radar, aren’t set in stone, either. They could potentially be removed, reimagined, or worked into the main app later down the line. That’ll depend on what Oura learns from the data and user feedback.

This kind of labs feature isn’t unique to Oura. In March, Google announced Fitbit Labs, which gives Fitbit Premium subscribers a chance to try and give feedback on AI features.

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