A team of researchers, including those at the University of California, San Francisco and University of California, San Diego, has tested the potential of a smart ring, that can collect health data, including temperature and heart rate, to detect fever associated with COVID-19. In a proof-of-concept study, the researchers showed that the ring, developed by a Finnish startup called Oura, could detect fevers before patients began to experience symptoms, suggesting that the technology could function as an early warning system for COVID-19.
Identifying COVID-19 infections early and implementing quarantine immediately could help to limit the spread of the virus and allow patients to receive care early. One of the most common symptoms in COVID-19 infections is a fever, and it is common that the early stages of a fever are be subtle and go unnoticed. Using a wearable to track body temperature is one way to catch an early sign of infection.
The Oura ring can measure a variety of health parameters, including heart rate, activity levels, temperature, and respiratory rate. “This isn’t just a science problem, it’s a social problem,” said Benjamin Smarr, a researcher involved in the study, in a press release. “With wearable devices that can measure temperature, we can begin to envision a public COVID early alert system.”
In this study involving 50 volunteers who owned Oura rings, the onset of fever was easily identified in the data collected by the rings. “The chart tracking people who had a fever looked like it was on fire,” said Smarr. Interestingly, the researchers observed that the onset of fever occurred before people began noticing COVID symptoms, suggesting that the technology could function as an early warning system. In some cases, people didn’t notice any other symptoms apart from the fever.
“It supports the hypothesis that some fever-like events may go unreported or unnoticed without being truly asymptomatic,” said Smarr. “Wearables therefore may contribute to identifying rates of asymptomatic [illness] as opposed to unreported illness, [which is] of special importance in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Study in Scientific Reports: Feasibility of continuous fever monitoring using wearable devices
Product page: Oura Ring…