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NBA players offered Oura smart ring to track symptoms in Orlando

Catching people who have the coronavirus early and isolating them away from other players is at the heart of the NBA’s bubble/campus restart plan in Orlando. It’s what’s behind the nearly daily testing of players, team staff, referees, and everyone else inside the bubble.

What if a temperature/heart rate tracker worn by players could catch them even earlier?

That’s why the NBA is offering the Oura smart ring to every player as they enter the Disney property in Orlando (the players’ union summary of the NBA’s restart rules named the company, the league did not). The high-tech ring tracks the wearer’s temperature, breathing, and heart rate, which the firm says could help indicate if a player has some of the early symptoms of the disease.

Take the company’s “it can predict COVID-19 symptoms up to three days in advance” claim with a lot of salt, it is wholly unproven (it is currently being studied). The ring sells for $299, and it connects to an app on your phone to provide the heart and sleep information.

If the Oura smart ring can be as predictive as the company claims, then why aren’t they giving these to doctors, nurses, first responders, and others on the front lines of the battle with the coronavirus? They could use it a lot more than an NBA player in a bubble.

Wearing the ring is optional for players, and expect most players (and others in the bubble) to say “thanks, but no thanks.”

We’ll see how much pressure — peer and otherwise — is put on the players and staff in Orlando to wear the ring. Some will be up for it, but I just don’t see this as a fashion trend inside the bubble.