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Oura rings enlisted in the fight against COVID

Remember mood rings? They were a 70’s fad that recycles every once in a while. The rings contained liquid crystal, which changes colors when the temperature of your finger changed. Red means you’re excited. Gray, nervous. Blue, calm. The science was a bit sketchy, but there was something to it. Anxiety sends blood towards your body’s core, decreasing the temperature in your extremities. And now there are rings that are health wearables that have sensors that measure temperature and heart rate with fairly good accuracy.

There are a number of such rings on the market, one of which is the Oura. The Oura ring is pretty lightweight – it weighs less than .25 oz – but it packs a lot in there:

Infrared LEDs, NTC temperature sensors, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope all wrapped around your finger — the most precise and convenient place to capture body measurements like heart rate, HRV, temperature, steps, and more.

The Oura has good battery life, lasting up to 7 days, and recharges wirelessly.

All in all, it sounds like a reasonably good device.

But it’s not getting the attention it’s getting by being a reasonably good device.

Research is underway at a number of universities to see how it can be enlisted in the fight against coronavirus by early detection of COVID-19 symptoms.

And the NBA recently announced that when their season resumes in late July in the Disney World Resort in Orlando bubble, players will have the option of wearing an Oura ring.

One completed study – from the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) – tapped more than 600 healthcare professionals and first responders to participate in its first phase, and shows promising results:

According to RNI’s results from its first phase of the study, released in late May, their technology – which uses a combination of an app, the Oura Ring and artificial intelligence models – was able to predict the onset of COVID-19 symptoms with over 90% accuracy.  (Source: CBS News)

The second phase of the study has been opened up to 10,000 participants.

Meanwhile, the NBA will also be deploying other technology.

…players will be receiving several different pieces of tech and safety equipment to utilize while in the Disney bubble, including a Disney Magic Band to be worn at all times and used to get through checkpoints and into rooms, social distancing alarms that will go off if players are too close to each other for too long, and these “smart” rings that they will have the choice to wear or not. (Source: Complex.com)

Basketball may not be a full contact sport, but the players get pretty up close to each other when they’re on the floor, so I’m wondering how this will work.

In any case, for those who’ve been missing sports during the lockdown, the NBA’s season making a comeback is welcome news. And it’s good to hear that technology is getting credited with an assist.