The NBA may use Oura rings for early COVID-19 detection

One study showed the smart rings to be 90 percent accurate.

As the NBA and its players' union work on finalizing an agreement to resume games, a tech-oriented detail has emerged as part of the prospective living situation while isolated at Disney World in Orlando. Players will have the option to wear Oura smart rings as means of detecting COVID-19, according to a report from The Athletic.

While not mandatory, the policy for wearing the rings was laid out in an internal memo called "Life in the Bubble." According to ESPN's Zach Lowe, team staff will only have access to the players' data when the Oura ring's "illness probability score" triggers further medical review. Aside from that feature, the smart ring can also track heart and respiration rates, temperature, movement, and other variables.


How well do these things work? — A study from West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute reported that Oura rings, along with digital platform created by RNI, can "forecast and predict the onset of COVID-19 related symptoms" three days in advance and with 90 percent accuracy.

The institute's platform uses models guided by artificial intelligence to asses measurements from the Oura ring — including increased body temperature, resting heart rate, and respiratory rate. It also uses a metric called "readiness," which compares longterm sleep and activities trends with short-term behavior.

The study enlisted 600 healthcare professionals and first responders for its first phase, and RNI says it plans to quickly scale its efforts to include 10,000 participants.


The tech at hand — Oura's titanium rings feature infrared LED and NTC temperature sensors, as well as an accelerometer and gyroscope. Battery life lasts for up to a week off of an 80-minute wireless charge, and the device is resistant to scratching and water. Two stylistic variations of the device have the same capabilities and are available for $299 each.

For any player that does decide to wear an Oura while held up in Orlando, it'll probably be the cheapest piece of jewelry they've worn for their entire career. While the rings are designed to be worn 24/7, it's hard to imagine anyone would wear one on the court — considering the intrusion and lack of personal sponsorship.