Bay Area medical workers use iPhone-connected smart ring to thwart COVID-19

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ouraring
This tiny ring could be a valuable tool for fighting COVID-19.
Photo: Oura Ring

Emergency medical workers in San Francisco are turning to an iPhone-connected smart ring to track their body temperature and other vital signs as a way to identify early symptoms of COVID-19.

2,000 Oura Rings have been distributed to workers at the UCSF Medical Center and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. It’s the first study developed to spot COVID-19 symptoms and help curb its spread. Researchers are hoping the medical data can be used to create an algorithm that can detect COVID-19 before symptoms even manifest.

Along with distributing the rings to health care workers, Oura asked its 150,000 ring users to share their medical data to assist in the development of the COVID-19 algorithm.

“It will help people self-quarantine sooner, get treatment sooner,” said Dr. Ashley Mason, the UCSF assistant psychiatry professor who developed the project. “It’s expected back in the fall and we need to have tools ready.”

Oura Ring to the rescue?

Oura Ring can measure heart rate, HRV, body temperature, and calorie burn with a battery that lasts up to one week. The ring can also track sleep patterns and is available to the public for $299.

Finnish CEO Petri Hollmén, tested positive for COVID-19 while wearing the ring and is a key figure in the study. Hollmén said he woke up one morning and the ring told him his body temperature was 1 degree Celsius higher than normal but he felt normal.

“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,” Hollmên told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Workers wearing the ring will get a heads-up if they have a fever so they can stay home and get treated instead of spreading the illness. The project hopes to collect data on COVID-positive patients who wore the ring and determine what bio-marker activities. The goal is to create a COVID-19 early detection device by fall when the coronavirus is expected to return after a possible summer lull.