Medical workers are using smart rings to track first signs of coronavirus

Medical workers are using smart rings to track first signs of coronavirus
Last week, smart thermometers were added to the coronavirus-fighting arsenal, and now, smart rings are going in as well. The idea is very similar - one of the first symptoms of the COVID-19 infection is the rise in body temperature. And while thermometers are far better at measuring this vital stat, smart rings are small, light, and can be worn all the time.

Dr. Ashley Mason, a UCSF assistant psychiatry professor, developed the project after her research on treating depression with sauna and extreme temperature was halted to give way to the more urgent viral matter. Dr. Mason quickly saw the connection between body temperature and coronavirus and texted Harpreet Rai, the CEO of Oura Health. It became clear that the Oura smart rings, which were to be used in saunas to track body temperature in the depression study, can be helpful in the current coronavirus situation as well.

As a pilot study of the partnership, ER doctors at UCSF Medical Center and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital are already wearing around 2,000 Oura rings that will help them detect early signs of fever, get tested, and self-isolate if necessary, Engadget reports. Oura has also made a plea to more than 150,000 smart ring users to share their data in an attempt to track the early onset of the disease on a larger scale.

There’s one case that precedes the large scale study that gives the researchers a reason to be optimistic. A Finish businessman went to a hospital to test himself for COVID-19 after his Oura ring showed an increase in body temperature. The test came out positive and the man self-isolated to prevent spreading the virus. “Without a device telling me this, I would’ve just thought that I was a bit tired due to the dog waking me up twice during the night,” the man wrote in an email to The Chronicle.

According to Dr. Mason, the coronavirus is expected to return in the fall and having all the available tools ready is key in fighting the pandemic.

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