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NBA Players to Wear Smart Rings That Can Detect COVID-19 Symptoms

Posted by on June 25, 2020 in Health, Prevention with 0 Comments

Oura smart ring.

With the NBA season set to resume next month at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, players will have the option to wear a smart ring that can detect coronavirus symptoms. The accessory piece, which was manufactured by Oura, tracks players’ health and measures their heart rates, respiratory functions, temperature, and sleeping patterns. Although the ring wasn’t designed to check COVID-19 symptoms, the tracking of vital body functions can really help predict who is at risk of contracting the virus.

According to Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, a non-profit institution that’s part of West Virginia University, the ring can give an early reading of Coronavirus symptoms up to three days in advance with 95% accuracy. In an interview with GQ, Executive Chair of the Institute Dr. Ali Rezai said that if this technology can help with earlier detection, “it can inform better decision making, facilitate safety, and prioritize who gets testing and other health containment strategies.”

Furthermore, Disney will hand players the same MagicBands that it distributed to guests to gain access to hotels and pay for gifts and food. But in this case, these MagicBands will be used for contact tracing. The league hopes that, through these bands, it will be able to track anyone diagnosed with the virus and see who they contacted. It is also exploring other software that would display red and green arrows that reflect players’ and employees’ health status.

Other safety measures that the NBA is handing out are smart thermometers and individual pulse oximeters to monitor blood oxygen saturation. Moreover, all team and league staff must have a small device on their credential that triggers an alarm when they stand too close to someone for longer than five seconds, according to CNBC.

Wearing the smart ring isn’t obligatory, however, and those who opt-out won’t receive any punishment. But those who refuse to undergo daily medical checkups will be “prohibited from engaging in group activities until the monitoring is accomplished and/or may be required to leave the campus permanently,” the NBA said.

Data Monitoring and Access

Oura, Disney, and other companies can monitor a lot of data through these trackers, which raises privacy concerns. The stocks of wearable technology have witnessed quite a rise in recent years. In football, for example, players now wear a smart vest that can track their performance during games or in training. And it’s not just in sports; even the corporate world is considering adopting the technology.

Now, the NBA revealed that the data will only be available to alert team staff of potential Coronavirus cases and won’t be part of any future contract negotiations. But what’s to say teams won’t push for further access down the line? They could argue that this technology is crucial in determining the physical condition of the multi-million-dollar athletes they’re buying. NBA players like Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers have already expressed their dismay, saying that the Oura smart ring sounds more like a “tracking device.”

So far, any requests for players to wear such devices are still voluntary, according to the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). “Before a Team could request that a player use an approved Wearable, the Team shall be required to provide the player a written, confidential explanation of: (i) what the device will measure; (ii) what each such measurement means; and (iii) the benefits to the player in obtaining such data.”

Several online resources offer valuable guides to protect your online privacy, like TheVPN.Guru.

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