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NBA Players Encouraged to Wear Diagnostic 'Smart Ring' When Season Resumes

June 22, 2020

In an effort to quickly identify health risks when the NBA season resumes in Orlando on July 30, league officials are encouraging its players to wear a lightweight, titanium “smart ring.”

The rings made by Finnish company, Oura, are equipped with censors that can detect changes in the players' body temperature, heart rate, sleeping patterns and respiratory rate — and most importantly, provide early warning signs if a player is in danger of contracting the coronavirus.

Scientists at the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) claim the Oura rings can detect COVID-19 related symptoms (fevers, coughing, breathing difficulties, fatigue and others) up to three days before they show up.

The claim is based on an initial study by RNI that included more than 600 physicians, nurses, urgent care providers and others directly working to care for patients with COVID-19 in West Virginia. The study's second phase will include an additional 10,000 participants across the United States, including New York and California, according to RNI.

The wearable technology is synched to RNI's smartphone app, which runs the data through a complex algorithm that promises to identify at-risk individuals before they become contagious, with 90% accuracy.

Pro basketball players will be given the option of wearing the ring when they finish up the 2019-2020 NBA season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports facilities in Orlando, Fla.

RNI believes the Oura ring could provide health benefits far beyond the NBA.

"This technology can potentially serve as a critical decision making tool to help contain the spread of the virus, safely re-open communities, strengthen the economy, and facilitate public health containment strategies," RNI noted in a press release.

“We are hopeful that Oura’s technology will advance how people identify and understand our body’s most nuanced physiological signals and warning signs, as they relate to infectious diseases like COVID-19,” added Harpreet Rai, CEO of Oura Health.

The Oura rings retail from $299 and $399 and are available in a number of metal colors.

Credit: Photos by Oura.

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