NBA to use smart rings to identify COVID symptoms

The sports industries around the world have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. With lockdowns and quarantines imposed around the world, sports stadiums stood empty and unused. While most sports are planning to reopen slowly but surely in the months to come, high contact sports have the most risk of transmission of the virus and have to take additional precautions.

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The National Basketball Association has an interesting proposal to help it salvage its season in time to start the new one without the majority of games being lost. It will isolate players and other personnel at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and could use smart rings to be able to monitor the well-being of all.

The organisation sent out a memo to all of its members called “Life inside the Bubble.” In it, it describes various strategies of mitigations and plans for regular testing, quarantine protocols and more.

The players and personnel could all be issued Oura’s smart rings, due to a study conducted by the West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute. It found that the physiological data from the smart rings can “forecast and predict the onset of COVID-19 related symptoms” three days in advance with 90 percent accuracy.

These small pieces of technology have always been a niche product in the fitness wearables market, but if they are used by the NBA it could be a massive boost to Oura’s fortunes.

Their smart rings weigh less than 6g and only need to be charged once a week. The functionality is largely the same as you’ll find on a fitness watch – it has infrared LED sensors, three body temperature sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope.

The research was conducted on only about 600 healthcare workers, which the company wants to broaden to several thousand very soon to validate these initial results. If it works, other sports could use similar methodologies to protect players and fans from the virus in the future.