This smart ring could detect COVID symptoms on top of tracking fitness and body performance

The most coveted rings are often the ones embellished with carats of diamonds. This year, however, the most sought-after ring has none of the bling but dazzles in other ways.

oura ring sleep tracker
Credit: Oura

The Oura Ring tracks your sleep and delivers personalised health insights straight from your body to a mobile app, but a new study also suggests that it may be able to detect COVID-19 in its earliest stages.

How the Oura Ring works

oura ring how it works
Credit: Oura

Forged from lightweight titanium, the Oura Ring is both scratch- and water-resistant. Like other health-tracking devices such as Fitbit and Apple Watch, the Oura Ring works in tandem with an app to display statistics like your step count, active and passive calorie burn, sleep quality, and respiratory rate.

Besides that, the ring also tracks your heart-rate variability (HRV), which shows how your nervous system is functioning. Other health-tracking devices record HRV too, but Oura claims to do it better. That is because the thinner skin on your finger makes it easier for the ring to consistently detect the wearer’s blood flow – it’s the same reason why doctors place a pulse oximeter on their patients’ fingers.

oura ring covid
Credit: Oura

Beyond its unique shape, a feature that gives the Oura a leg up over other devices is a gauge of body temperature. This allows it to warn wearers about the potential onset of a flu or fever. The Oura is also the only device on the market that combines all its statistics into an algorithm that then generates a “readiness score” for your day ahead.

A click through the companion app, and you’ll be able to check all the data, including sleep stages, steps, heart rate, and body temperature deviation. But it gets boiled down into three separate metrics when you open the app: your activity goal progress, your readiness, and your sleep score.

The Oura Ring detects COVID symptoms

Credit: Oura

In 2020, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco tested the ring with close to 3,400 emergency health care workers. This study looked at whether data such as body temperature, along with a daily symptom survey, could detect the early onset of the virus.

The final report, which was released on December 14, found that the smart ring’s continuous temperature monitoring could point out illnesses such as COVID-19, even in cases where infection was not suspected. It was reported that fever was identified in 38 of the 50 participants when symptoms were unnoticed.

While we may not know how effectively the smart ring can detect asymptomatic COVID, researchers said the device may be a better indicator of illness compared to a thermometer, which could lead to earlier isolation and testing.

Of course, it’s worth noting that the Oura Ring isn’t going to send you a notification saying you have the virus. Instead, it notifies you if your biometrics deviate from the norm, which could indicate illness.

The Oura Ring is available in four different finishes: silver, black, stealth, and gold. Prices range from US$299 (S$396) to US$399 (S$528), available at OuraRing.com

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