NBA To Give Players 'Smart' Ring That Predicts, Tracks COVID-19 Symptoms

The NBA has confirmed plans to reopen courts by July 31 for the 2019-20 Season. Resuming the play received criticism since COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread across the U.S., but the league promised to protect its players and workers. 

To help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus among the 22 participating teams, NBA said it will provide players with a smart ring. The device from Finland-based company Oura could track the user's health and predict the symptoms of the infection, CNN reported Monday.

The $299 tool was originally designed to monitor sleep, pulse, movement, heart activity and temperature, according to the company's website. Now, the NBA wants to utilize its health tracking features to regularly check on signs of COVID-19 before players enter the court.

"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 league explained in its health and safety protocols.

The Oura ring is one of the wearable devices being studied across the world to see how they could help detect and identify the symptoms of COVID-19. The company reportedly has also been working with the University of California San Francisco and West Virginia University to analyze its smart ring.

However, health experts expressed concerns with the NBA’s decision to use the device for health monitoring despite the lack of information on its accuracy. 

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

She recommended that the NBA follow basic protocols to protect its players and staff. The league should prioritize regular testing for coronavirus to better prevent infections. 

Providing a wearable device that promises to detect the symptoms of COVID-19 early may give people a false sense of security. Long said people may stop wearing masks or skip testing because the Oura ring says they are fine. 

The Oura device has yet to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to monitor health data.

NBA Basketball NBA plans to begin the 2019-20 Season by July 31 with 22 participating teams. Pexels

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