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NBA Players Could Wear A Smart Ring To Track COVID-19 When Season Resumes

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Photo Courtesy of Oura

With most of the major North American professional sports leagues set to resume next month, many are wondering how these organizations plan to stop the spread of COVID-19.  A ton has been made about keeping players quarantined in hotels, not allowing them to see people other than their family and regular testing but the National Basketball Association might also use a smart ring.

Just a few weeks ago, the league announced a late July return at Walt Disney World’s facilities in Orlando, Florida though it continues to figure out how to quickly detect any symptoms that a person might be carrying the virus.  A new smart ring, from Oura, would digitally keep track of a player’s temperature, heart rate, sleeping patterns and respiratory rate and is being offered to anyone set to make their return inside the little Disney World “bubble,” according to The Athletic.  The smart ring will notify players if they’re within six feet of others – when not on the court, of course. 

The ring, which will be able to sync to a smartphone app allowing players to check exactly where their health stands, will not be mandatory.  Originally, the ring was developed as a sleep tracker to monitor heart rate and body temperature, however a recent study from West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute suggests the numbers can help give three days of warning for symptoms at a 95 percent success rate.  According to The Verge, the smart ring was recently given to 2,000 medical workers at the University of California, San Francisco for researchers to analyze daily health data.

If an NBA player tests positive at any point during resumed play, he must isolate himself away from the hotel and be retested to confirm the positive reading.  He can not play and must remain in isolation until he feels better and symptoms dissipate, at which point he can resume play following negative tests. Florida has seen a significant spike in confirmed cases over the last week, though there’s no word if it might impact the NBA’s return.

Neither the NBA or Oura have commented on the procedure at this time.  If you’re interested in purchasing an Oura smart ring, like more than 15,000 users worldwide, the retail price is $299.