SPORTS

The NBA is offering players a ‘smart’ ring to track Covid. But does it even work?

Jun 22, 2020, 6:37 AM | Updated: Aug 30, 2022, 3:39 pm
The NBA, which hopes to restart the season July 30, says it is offering players a ring whose maker ...
The NBA, which hopes to restart the season July 30, says it is offering players a ring whose maker claims it can track a user's health data and even predict if users are about to show symptoms of coronavirus infection. Credit: Oura Ring

    (CNN) — The NBA, which hopes to restart the season July 30, says it is offering players a ring whose maker claims it can track a user’s health data and even predict if users are about to show symptoms of coronavirus infection.

But there’s not much information yet on how well the device, which has embedded electronics, works.

The $299 Oura ring is designed to monitor sleep, pulse, movement, heart activity and temperature, according to the company’s website.

Some doctors are lukewarm about its potential.

“There is not a lot of data on it right now. There have been some studies that I’ve seen — most of the studies are published by the device manufacturers,” Dr. Darria Long, an emergency room physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, told CNN.

Other doctors contacted by CNN said there was too little solid information about the device for them to comment on it.

The ring is one of about a half-dozen wearable devices being studied to see if they can detect the often-subtle symptoms of coronavirus infection.

A team at Scripps Research is looking into the potential of the Apple Watch, Fitbits, Garmin devices, Oura and others to see if they can accurately monitor a person’s baseline temperature, heart rate, sleep and daily movement, and use changes in that data to detect the early onset of an infection.

Finland-based Oura is paying for studies at the University of California San Francisco and West Virginia University to see whether the ring might provide useful data.

There’s a little evidence to suggest that pulse and temperature can change before people notice symptoms of infections like influenza.

A study published earlier this year showed that Fitbit sleep and heart rate data involving 200,000 people as a whole seemed to sync with the changing epidemic of seasonal flu.

Long says the potential to study large groups of people to see if there is useful data that can be collected is interesting.

“But it does not replace any of the other things we should be doing, and the other steps that the NBA should be doing in terms of protecting their players, protecting their staff,” Long said. They should still be doing pools of testing and regular testing — all of those other things.”

“Just don’t let it give us a false sense of security. Don’t stop wearing your mask because your Oura ring says you’re OK. You know, don’t skip testing because everybody’s Oura ring says they’re fine.”

Makers have to prove their devices’ accuracy

The device makers have to first prove that their devices can accurately measure and report things such as a person’s temperature and heart rate.

Smart watches have been working on this problem for years. It’s not necessarily easy to monitor heart rate from a spot on the top of the wrist. Trying to measure it from a ring is a new and an even less-tested approach.

Then manufacturers would have to show that this information can accurately detect an infection.

“I don’t care who — if it’s Oura, or Fitbit or Apple — none of them are necessarily proven,” Long said. “We can’t use it to give a false sense of security. We need to think of this as data and ideas in research right now.”

The Oura device is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to monitor health data. In 2018, the FDA approved two Apple apps to monitor for atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm irregularity that can lead to stroke, as well as unusually slow or unusually fast heart rates.

The NBA’s health and safety protocols mention a ring but say little else.

“To promote efforts to identify potential illness, upon arrival on the campus, each player and essential staff member will be given the option to participate in a process that uses a wearable device (worn as a ring) being studied and validated by the University of Michigan to generate a wellness assessment derived from metrics such as body temperature and respiratory and heart rate. The NBA will share additional details regarding the device and process for participation in a forthcoming memo to teams,” the protocols read.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

Sports

For the first time in history, a woman has taken to the field as a referee during World Cup soccer....
Associated Press

Stéphanie Frappart makes history as 1st female World Cup ref

Frappart also had two women as assistants. Neuza Back of Brazil and Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico complete an all-female refereeing team on the field.
2 days ago
A US Soccer spokesperson told CNN in an email that Pulisic, who collided with the Iranian goalkeepe...
Kevin Dotson and Matias Grez, CNN

Christian Pulisic is day-to-day after being taken to hospital with pelvic contusion suffered scoring winning goal for US

A US Soccer spokesperson told CNN in an email that Pulisic, who collided with the Iranian goalkeeper after scoring his goal, went for medical scans but "was not hospitalized."
3 days ago
The USA has beaten Iran at the World Cup and advances into the Knockout Round....
Matias Grez

USMNT advances to World Cup knockout stage with victory over Iran

Christian Pulisic's first-half goal was all that separated the two sides as the USMNT reached the round of 16 for the first time since 2014.
4 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
4 days ago
Team USA gymnasts cheer from stands, four utah kids competed in international gymnastics competitio...
Britt Johnson

Utah well-represented during international gymnastics competition

A gymnastics competition last week saw four kids from Utah competing against international gymnasts. One parent says preparation went beyond training.
5 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
Ben Morse and Wayne Sterling, CNN

Iran wants US out of World Cup after change made to Iranian flag

Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran's flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
The NBA is offering players a ‘smart’ ring to track Covid. But does it even work?