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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.
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.
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.
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.
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A scientist in Sweden makes a controversial presentation at a future of food conference.
- A behavioral scientist from Sweden thinks cannibalism of corpses will become necessary due to effects of climate change.
- He made the controversial presentation to Swedish TV during a "Future of Food" conference in Stockholm.
- The scientist acknowledges the many taboos this idea would have to overcome.
Depiction of cannibalism in the Medieval ages.
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President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.
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Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/ Russian Direct Investment Fund via AP
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A report from the New York Times raises questions over how the teletherapy startup Talkspace handles user data.
- In the report, several former employees said that "individual users' anonymized conversations were routinely reviewed and mined for insights."
- Talkspace denied using user data for marketing purposes, though it acknowledged that it looks at client transcripts to improve its services.
- It's still unclear whether teletherapy is as effective as traditional therapy.
Talkspace.com<p>Former employees also questioned the legitimacy of certain interventions by the company into client-therapist interactions. For example, after one therapist sent a client a link to an online anxiety worksheet, a company representative instructed her to try to keep clients inside the app.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I was like, 'How do you know I did that?'" Karissa Brennan, a therapist who worked with Talkspace from 2015 to 2017, told the Times. "They said it was private, but it wasn't."</p><p>Other former employees said the company would pay special attention to its "enterprise partner" clients, who worked at companies like Google. One therapist said Talkspace contacted her for taking too long to respond to Google clients.</p><p>Talkspace responded to the Times with a Medium <a href="https://medium.com/@founders_22883/talkspace-founders-respond-to-a-new-york-times-article-78d6f5c45c59" target="_blank">post</a>, which claimed the Times report contained false and "uninformed assertions."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Talkspace is a HIPAA/HITECH and SOC2 approved platform, audited annually by external vendors, and has deployed additional technologies to keep its data safe, exceeding all existing regulatory requirements," the post states.</p>