Interview with Oura Ring, a sleep-wellness device backed by $650K on Kickstarter
We interviewed OURA, a sleep-wellness device that that fits on your finger! They used Kickstarter to crowdfund it and had 2,383 backers pledge $651,803 to help bring it to life. Tell us how Oura came about, what inspired it? How did you come up with the name and how do you pronounce it?
The motive for creating the ŌURA ring (pronounced awe-rah) was based on our own need to stay balanced, productive and healthy in the middle of our hectic professional and family life. We wanted to better understand what we can do to improve recovery from the mental and physical load of daily life to be at our best. We knew that if you want to maintain and enhance your daytime performance, improving sleep quality is essential. And because our daytime choices determine whether our sleep is refreshing or not, we needed to learn about our body reactions in relation to what we do, while also acquiring a long-term view on how our body and mind responds to sleep, rest, activities and our lifestyle in general.
To achieve this target, we tested a wide range of available fitness and health monitoring devices. While many of these products had excellent functionalities, none of them provided a satisfactory answer to our questions. In fact, most of the devices were uncomfortable to wear and unattractive from a design perspective. Creating our own device was the logical solution since many of our team members have extensive experience in developing high-tech consumer products.
Early in the project, we understood that in order to obtain a long-term view of physiological changes in the body, we had to find a unique way to measure biosignals with unprecedented accuracy. At the same we had to come up with a desirable and ergonomic design with high wearing comfort. Through extensive research and prototyping, we discovered that the finger is the most convenient place for accessing comprehensive physiological data accurately. The ring is a classic form factor that is comfortable to wear for longer periods of time and naturally fits tightly against your skin. After multiple rounds of prototyping we were able to fit a full-featured computer with necessary sensors, processing power and memory into a ring. ŌURA was born.
Our branding agency, Proxy Ventures in the UK created the name together with us.The starting point was the side profile of the ring. We started with the letter O, but once we added the line on top of it, it ended up perfectly fitting the side profile of our actual physical product, the ŌURA ring.
The name itself does not have any specific meaning. However, in Finland there are several beautiful places with Oura as part of their name, like e.g. Oura archipelago. It is also said that in old Finnish language Oura means stable stone ground or bedrock. That’s a nice analogy to what we want to bring to people as well – strong foundation for long term well-being and performance.
2. Can children use Oura?
Yes, if the ring size fits nicely to the child’s finger.
3. How did you design and manufacture the product?
To arrive at the perfect design, we went through several generations of prototypes and managed to fit all this intelligence into a small, durable ring. Product development began over two years ago with technology studies and concept development. First industrial design mock-ups were fabricated during 2013. We managed to integrate sensors, electronics and battery to the first fully functioning ring prototype in spring 2014. User testing has been done in our team from the beginning of 2015 onward. Design of the ring and ring box were frozen in June 2015 after extensive electrical, reliability and environmental testing.
We manufacture ŌURA in Finland, in one of the most advanced electronics manufacturing locations in the world, close to our company’s main R&D site. This ensures maximal speed, rapid improvements and premium production quality.
4. Tell us about your Kickstarter campaign. Did anything surprise you with Kickstarter campaign? Any anecdotes to share in creating and running the Kickstarter campaign?
First of all, the Kickstarter community is amazing and very supportive! But no matter how much research you do in advance, you can never fully understand how much work there is until you run a campaign yourself. We are really pleased with the outcome though.
As the page editing tools on the platform are minimalistic, we chose to present most of the campaign content visually to get our message through clearly . This also enabled us to be creative and make the page look beautiful and compelling.
5. How did you create the video for your Kickstarter campaign?
We are co-operating with an extremely talented Finnish professional creative production company called KAUAS who has taken all shootings and photos based on our scripts and brand guidelines. We took several shooting sessions a half a year before and more just before the campaign started.
6. Can you share tips for those considering crowdfunding their project? What are some keys to making the campaign successful?
Prepare your campaign content, images and videos carefully. If you can, co-operate with real professionals on video shootings and photos. It will pay off. Be aware that you need to work almost around the clock during the campaign, unless you have a PR agent to do that for you. One thing we also learned is that you can´t change or delete comments you have uploaded, so you need to think before you type.
7. What’s next for Oura?
We are ready to ship ŌURA rings from our warehouses in the US and Finland and release the Apple iOS app, in November 2015. The Android app will follow in the beginning of next year.
Before shipments start we will send out the complete size range (US 6-13) of plastic fitting rings so that our backers can take their time choosing their preferred finger for wearing the ŌURA ring, and the ring size that matches perfectly with it.
Once our backers get their ŌURA rings, we would love to hear their insights so we can fine-tune the ŌURA user experience and mobile user interface. We really look forward to receiving feedback on the ring and how it feels in daily use. We have also heard a lot of great ideas from our backers on how to develop the product and what features could be included in the future, so we hope to keep this discussion going.
We are constantly improving ŌURA. It evolves with new features, and gains powerful new functionalities.