How This Ring Helps Keep NBA Players Safe From COVID-19

NBA, Tracking basketball players’ health with a shiny little ring dips into the realm of sci-fi tech.

How This Ring Helps Keep NBA Players Safe From COVID-19

The world is opening up slowly but surely with the months rolling on and economies in need of recuperation. With doors opening, activities have begun to start up again including sports such as basketball, though stands stay empty for now. To ensure their utmost safety, several measures have been employed in an attempt to safeguard the health of the players in the 22 NBA teams that are currently residing at what is referred to as the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Florida. One of the options being served up to the players is to wear a high-tech ring that can track their probability of having contracted COVID-19.

The little device in question is the brainchild of a Finnish health technology company founded in 2013. Their simple and unobtrusive ring comes in a few different minimalist designs and offers a variety of different functions.

Oura’s US$300 smart ring is supposed to summarise one’s health data in three simple but meaningful scores, sleep, readiness and activity, to help users understand their body better. It contains infrared LEDs, NTC temperature sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope all wrapped up in a sleek lightweight design to capture body measurements like heart rate, HRV, temperature, steps and more.

Originally the ring was simply another device for health and fitness nuts to drool over. It was even seen on darling monarch Prince Harry’s finger in 2018 when he visited Australia and New Zealand with his wife Meghan Markle. But in a time where temperature and body regulation is so important, it is finding other uses.

A Finnish entrepreneur who wore the ring claimed that it showed him that he might be ill before any serious symptoms had set in and when checked at the hospital, he was indeed a carrier of the virus. The focus on Oura for this purpose over other competitors like Motiv is the temperature sensors, a distinguishing feature.

This led the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to collaborate with Oura to see if this could help frontliners by conducting a study if the ring could indeed help predict the probability of the virus in the earlier stages. The company then proceeded to donate 3,000 rings to health care workers across the United States as well as call in their users to help give data towards the study.

Though it seems like the ring has many benefits, there are still worries, which are not uncommon with tech devices that track personal data. One concern is that the NBA or others will misuse the data collected. ESPN journalist Zach Lowe has reported that the ring is, of course, optional and that unless the data indicates that a player is heading into COVID-19 territory, that data remains private from staff and other players.

It is yet to be confirmed whether the ring can and will be used widely by medical workers or even the public and whether it is truly worth the cost. But keeping tabs on users’ temperature is key during this pandemic and this device will definitely help.

Users of this tiny health ring in Malaysia should ensure they keep an eye on the readiness feature and temperature changes as it may save a life. The Oura might be the ring to rule them all.

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