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NBA Players Will Wear Oura Rings During the New Season to Prevent COVID-19

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Sports can to an immediate halt when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the USA back in March. The NBA was one of the first professional sports leagues to cancel games, but they’re looking forward to resuming the season at Disney World on July 30 with a few key coronavirus-prevention measures including Oura Rings.

The National Basketball Player’s Association sent a memo on Tuesday detailing its “Life Inside the Bubble” plan. The plan outlines virtual workouts, testing protocols, social distancing requirements, and travel guidelines. The memo also noted that players will be allowed to wear two different electronic wearables.

The first wearable is a wrist-worn “proximity alarm” that will alert players if they are within six feet of another person. The second option is an Oura Ring sleep and fitness tracker.

How the NBA is using Oura Ring to detect COVID-19

Oura Ring was originally invented for use as a sleep tracker. The robust suite of performance tracking measures include heart rate variability, respiratory rate, body temperature, and resting heart rate.

The NBA believes that it can use the tracking capabilities of the Oura Ring as an early detection system for the novel coronavirus. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds, considering the fact that Stanford University is using it in their official COVID-19 study.

The players who choose to wear an Oura Ring – the memo claims that it’s optional – will also undergo COVID-19 testing on a regular basis. This means that the rings will give researchers much more valuable data on the early stages of coronavirus infections.

Oura Ring being worn on a person's finger
The NBA will track players using an Oura Ring to detect COVID-19 symptoms

Who will see the data?

The sensitive nature of the data that Oura Ring collects from users has some serious privacy implications. NBA players aren’t exactly your average Joe and their health data could be very valuable.

ESPN writer Zach Lowe says that team staff will have access to an “illness probability score” for each player and nothing else. The teams will not have access to the data itself and thus won’t know the specific details behind each players probability score. They’ll only know if the player is likely to be infected with COVID or not.

Players who use the device will presumably have access to their own data. This could be a game changer since the different data points that Oura Ring tracks are invaluable to athletic performance. The ability to optimize your sleep is in and of itself one of the most important things for an athlete – Kobe Bryant was known for prioritizing sleep.

Oura Ring data
Teams will only have access to an “Illness Probability Score” for players

Can you use your own Oura Ring to detect COVID-19?

The answer is no. At this time, regular consumers can’t use their Oura Ring tracker to detect coronavirus in themselves. This is a special program that the company is partnering with the NBA on.

Diagnostic capabilities have to be approved by the FDA. Even if the Oura Ring ends up being successful among NBA players, it’s important to note that they also have access to regular COVID-19 testing and cutting-edge medical teams that the rest of us don’t have.

If you like the overall concept of the Oura Ring and want to use it to track your sleep then we definitely think that you’re making a good decision (although we think the Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a better choice). Dr. Rhonda Patrick – a leading expert in health – has gone on record as stating that it’s the device that she uses to track her own sleep. Sales have been growing at a rapid rate and it’s clear that it’s one of the most popular sleep trackers among consumers.

Just don’t expect it to detect coronavirus for you.

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