Researchers from the West Virginia University Medicine and Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) claim that wearable Oura rings can detect Covid-19 symptoms before they are present. The research group claims that their digital platform can predict symptoms with 90% accuracy up to three days early as reported by Engadget.
Pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals are one of the reasons Covid-19 has been so infectious across the world. Therefore, a platform that can catch these people could be game-changing in the fight against the virus. Although it is not ready for real-world use the research appears to be promising. Fitbit also launched a study into this exact process through data from its wearables.
How it Works
Two elements of detection make up this platform. The first is asking participants to track data through the RNI app. This includes metrics such as anxiety, stress, memory as well as other psychological biometrics. This naturally relies on individuals manually putting data into the study.
The second utilises Oura rings to collect physiological data surrounding Covid-19 symptoms. The wearable devices track things such a body temperature, heart rate variability, resting heart rate, respiratory rate and sleep patterns.
The data from the app and from Oura Rings are then collated with AI models. This, in turn, models your symptoms in order to create predictions which are supposedly 90% active. In its current state, therefore, it is not ready for wider use. It could be a useful indicator though was what is to come and where technology could be in the future.
Technology is also being used in the fight against Covid-19 in the form of contact tracing apps. However, there are fears that for many they may not be able to make use of them owing to the age of their device.
What This Means
RNI executive chair, Ali Rezai, has said that "we feel this platform will be integral to protecting our healthcare workers, first responders and communities as we adjust to life in the COVID-19 era." Although the platform is not yet perfect it could be better than nothing and be able to prevent some community transmission.
The platform is currently being trialled in just 600 people. However, the RNI is working with partners in order to scale this up to more than 10,000 in the near future. University of California San Francisco is also investigating the use of Oura Rings in detecting the virus so this study may come on quickly.
Overall, this is a promising step forward in there is good levels of success in these preliminary study. It may not be the key to fighting the virus but part of the tools used to limit transmission.