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Covid19, News, Sports, Technology, Wearables

How NBA And NASCAR Are Using Oura’s Wearable Smart Ring To Keep Players And Staff Healthy

Siim Pettai

Siim Pettai, Writer
@uxconnections

The $300 Oura Smart Ring is a personal health tracker that is capable of measuring body pulse, sleep quality, heart rate as well as skin temperature.

When the NBA restarted its season in a tight bubble located in Orlando, the main priority was to keep the players safe and healthy. So far, the professional basketball league has done a perfect job with that. Over the course of six weeks, no player or staff has tested positive for COVID-19.

The secret behind the success could be the use of the latest wearable technology in healthcare. NBA recently announced its partnership with Oura Health, a Finnish start-up that produces a wearable smart ring capable of measuring one’s body temperature. As part of the collaboration, about one-fourth of the NBA players and coaches wear the smart ring to track their health on a daily basis.

Although Oura has stated that the ring isn’t a medical device, it does inform users of sudden changes in their health. The ring is equipped with accurate sensors that measure things such as sleep, activity, body temperature and heart rate. To detect any abnormalities, Oura uses baselines that are unique to the wearer. This means, in case the user’s metrics start deviating from their everyday normal, Oura will notify them.

The smart ring is paired with the Oura mobile app. Inside the app, users get access to insights on three metrics: sleep, readiness, and activity. The sleep report gives users insights on their sleep stages, REM sleep, time in bed, wake-up time, and sleep efficiency. Based on these personal metrics, Oura gives users recommendations on things such as their advisable bed time.

The readiness report offers insights on the user’s daily capacity to perform at their mental, physical and emotional best. Readiness takes into account recent sleep patterns, as well as direct body signals, such as resting heart rate and body temperature. For instance, if a user’s resting heart rate is higher than their daily normal, it might be a sign of overtraining. In this case, Oura recommends the user to take a day off to relax. On the other hand, if a user has eaten and slept well for several days, they might be ready to push harder during workouts.

Finally, using a 3D accelerometer, Oura also tracks the user’s physical activity. The activity report shows insights on the user’s daily step count, activity goal completion and inactive time. Based on the user’s profile information (e.g. age, weight, height and gender), Oura translates activity signals into calories burned. In case the user has been sedentary throughout the day, Oura sends a notifying signal recommending the user to do something active. This helps the user to find and maintain a healthy balance between rest and activity.

Wearable Smart Ring To Break Health Myths

Oura aims to break the common myths around the healthy lifestyle – that eight hours of sleep and 10,000 steps per day are optimal. This might not be the case for everyone. Instead, Oura empowers people to find what’s right for them. Based on collected data, people can shape healthy habits that are personal to themselves.

For NBA players and staff, the smart ring is a convenient solution for health tracking. It doesn’t require any input from users. All the data is automatically saved on the Oura app. Besides, the ring is comfortable to wear, and has a battery life of up to seven days. 

Some NBA players, including all-star Kevin Love, have said that the ring has helped them stay mentally sharp during the season, as well as off the court.

Partnership With NASCAR

American auto racing company NASCAR recently announced that Oura will become its official health technology partner. As part of the collaboration, NASCAR drivers and staff will be provided with an Oura Ring.

Commenting on the initiative, John Bobo, Vice President of Racing Operations, said that Oura’s technology will work well with NASCAR’s safety protocols. During challenging times like this, it is imperative for NASCAR to keep their drivers and employees safe, he added. Similarly to the NBA, Oura will play a key role in identifying symptoms, and will inform drivers when it is time to take a COVID-19 test, or self-isolate.

Bottom Line

Whether the Oura Ring is reliable for detecting COVID-19 remains a question. Regardless, it is a great tool for anyone who wants to keep track of their health, and improve their daily performance. The gadget has already proven to be popular among world-class athletes. This provides a great building block for the company to fuel growth in many markets, to go along with its recent $28 million funding round.

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