Dec 14, 2020 - Technology

Study: Smart ring could help spot COVID infections

Oura's smart ring

Photo: Oura

Oura's smart ring could help detect COVID-19 infections before noticeable symptoms show up — and earlier than other methods — thanks to its ability to continuously monitor body temperature, according to a University of California, San Francisco study.

Why it matters: Earlier detection, especially of those without symptoms, could spur people who may be infected to get tested and self-isolate, crucial steps in slowing the coronavirus' spread as the pandemic worsens in the U.S.

Between the lines: Because the smart ring continuously monitors vitals, researchers found, it can spot when someone's temperature is running higher than the normal range of fluctuations around their personal baseline, even if they're not running an objectively high fever.

Driving the news: An analysis of data from 50 COVID-19 infected patients that were part of a larger UCSF study is being published today in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

  • Of the 50, 38 reported a fever, and showed an elevated temperature in their smart ring data.

What they're saying: Ashley Mason, principal investigator for the project, said the study showed that those who later tested positive for COVID-19 often showed a "mini-storm" of physiological changes before a bigger, more easily detectable set of symptoms.

What's next: The researchers are looking to test an algorithm that could prompt wearers to get a COVID-19 test when data that the ring collects, including temperature, suggest a possible infection.

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