Attempting to track COVID-19 with smart rings for responders

Medical researchers put a ring on it to learn more about the onset of COVID-19.

Oura
  • Smart rings are being tested on San Francisco ER workers to track symptoms of COVID-19.
  • The rings, designed by a company called Oura, detect heart rate, temperature, and respiration.
  • The researchers hope to build a diagnostic algorithm from the collected data.

    • There's so much information out there about the symptoms that accompany the onset of COVID-19 that it's easy to forget how little is actually known about the disease's trajectory from novel coronavirus infection to COVID-19 disease. With individual responses to infection varying as widely as they do, who knows what to think. Clearly, the medical community would like to have a better grasp of what happens once an individual becomes infected.

      A new project to do just that has just been announced in San Francisco. Over 2,000 emergency medical workers will soon begin wearing smart rings from a company called Oura that track their heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. They will also fill out daily surveys. Together, the managers of the project hope to get a clearer picture of a patient's early days of COVID-19, develop diagnostic software, and keep a closer watch on the medical personnel bravely working on the front lines of the pandemic.

      TemPredict

      Image source: University of California at San Francisco Medical Center/ŌURA

      The TemPredict study is a project of University of California at San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) and Oura, in collaboration with Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFGH).

      The purpose of this study is to collect information from a wearable sensor that may allow researchers to develop an algorithm that can predict onset of symptoms such as fever, cough, and fatigue, which can characterize COVID-19," reads a statement on the UCSF SEA Lab website.

      Oura smart ring

      Image source: ŌURA

      Data for TemPredict is sourced from a commercially available wearable, the Oura ring. The rings are typically marketed as activity monitors that help customers develop healthier sleeping habits. Nonetheless, they're packed with technology that the TemPredict team hopes can help them track the advance of COVID-19.

      Each titanium Oura ring is equipped with infrared LEDs, NTC temperature sensors, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope to capture measurements such as heart rate, temperature, respiration, and steps. The rings are also accompanied by a smartphone app that collects the data that Oura and UCSF need for this project.

      While no one claims that the Oura ring can detect COVID-19 in and of itself, that could change if the TemPredict team is able to successfully develop their diagnostic algorithm from the collected data.

      Getting into the project

      TemPredict plans to equip emergency workers with an Oura ring if they don't already own and wear one. (If you're a UCSF or ZSFGH healthcare employee, there's a brief online questionnaire that will tell you if you're eligible to join the study.)

      Participants in TemPredict are expected to download the Oura app and connect it to their rings, which they agree to wear every day for three months after completing a screening and baseline survey.

      On each day of the project, participants will fill out a survey recording any symptoms they've acquired, including fever, cough, fatigue, and other symptoms. In addition, they're expected to share the data their ring has collected — including temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, sleep, and activity — with Oura, who will presumably forward it to the TemPredict data-crunchers. The company already collects data from some 150,000 of its rings worldwide and is also making that trove of data available to the TemPredict team.

      American education: It’s colleges, not college students, that are failing

      Who is to blame for the U.S.'s dismal college graduation rate? "Radical" educator Dennis Littky has a hunch.

      Percentage of college student dropouts by age at enrollment: 2-year and 4-year institutions

      Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
      • COVID-19 has magnified the challenges that underserved communities face with regard to higher education, such as widening social inequality and sky-high tuition.
      • At College Unbound, where I am president, we get to know students individually to understand what motivates them, so they can build a curriculum based on goals they want to achieve.
      • My teaching mantra: Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19.
      Keep reading Show less

      Scientists observe strange lights in the heart of the Milky Way

      Astronomers spot periodic lights coming from near the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

      Hot spots around the black hole at the center of the Milky Way may produce periodic lights.

      Credit: Keio University
      Surprising Science
      • Astronomers in Japan observe periodic lights coming from the region near the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
      • The twinkling may be produced by hot spots in the accretion disk around the black hole.
      • The mysterious region studied features extreme gravity.
      Keep reading Show less

      These countries are leading the transition to sustainable energy

      Sweden tops the ranking for the third year in a row.

      AXEL SCHMIDT/DDP/AFP via Getty Images
      Technology & Innovation

      What does COVID-19 mean for the energy transition? While lockdowns have caused a temporary fall in CO2 emissions, the pandemic risks derailing recent progress in addressing the world's energy challenges.

      Keep reading Show less

      What does the red pill really show you?

      Neo's superhuman powers were only inside of The Matrix. The outside world offered a different reality.

      A fan cosplays as Morpheus from The Matrix during the 2018 New York Comic-Con at Javits Center on October 7, 2018 in New York City.

      Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
      Culture & Religion
      • The "red pill" came into prominence as a way to break free of mental slavery in the 1999 movie, "The Matrix."
      • In a new essay, Julian Walker points out Neo's powers only worked inside of the simulation—reality is a different story.
      • The red vs blue pill question is a pop culture phenomenon, often used in questionable circumstances.
      Keep reading Show less
      Scroll down to load more…