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US: What the NBA’S $300 COVID-Detecting Rings Can Actually Accomplish

The NBA, which will tentatively restart its season on July 30, is hoping that a futuristic titanium ring will help to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. When players get to Disney World to finish out the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, they’ll have a number of gadgets at their disposal to keep the disease at bay, such as thermometers, pulse oximeters, and a wearable proximity alarm that beeps if you’re within 6 feet of another person for more than five seconds. Players and staff will live in a bubble largely isolated from the rest of the world and undergo daily tests.

They’ll also have an option to wear a $300 ring made by the Finnish company Oura that measures temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, and other physiological data that could theoretically be helpful for detecting whether someone has COVID-19, even before they start exhibiting symptoms. By plugging these variables into an algorithm, the ring will provide the players with an “illness probability score” that tells them whether they should seek a medical examination. A smartphone app linked to the ring will present the score and other information the device has collected. The inner surface of the ring has three sensors: an infrared photoplethysmography sensor for respiration and heart rate, a negative temperature coefficient for body temperature, and a 3D accelerometer for movement.

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