Oura, the Finish startup which produces an eponymous smart ring that tracks the wearer's health, fitness and sleep, is sponsoring research into detecting the early signs of the new coronavirus.
Specifically, the ring's body temperature sensors will be used to collect data on 2,000 healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses and other medical staff, who are in contact with COVID-19 patients.
Called TemPredict, the study will take place at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the company is looking at whether the data that's collected, along with responses to daily symptom surveys by medical staff, will help predict the illness.
Oura said: "The study aims to build an algorithm to help UCSF identify patterns of onset, progression, and recovery, for COVID-19."
The company added: "By letting healthcare workers easily track changes in their body temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate, they may be better equipped to understand early warning signs of infection."
Healthcare workers at UCSF and the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital are eligible to take part in the study, so long as their role involves interaction with coronavirus patients.
The ring is predominantly marketed as a sleep monitorOura
After downloading the Oura Ring smartphone app and completing a screening and baseline survey, healthcare workers will have the ring, which normally costs $299, shipped to them free of charge. The ring is then to be worn for three months, before it is returned to Oura. Medical staff can find out if they are eligible to take part by completing this survey.
As well as giving smart rings to 2,000 specific healthcare workers, Oura is also opening up the study to all owners of its smart ring. These volunteers will also have their health metrics tracked and be asked to complete daily symptom surveys.
The company is looking at whether the collected data will help researchers in their efforts to identify patterns that could predict onset, progression and recovery in future coronavirus cases. This is particularly important as the virus can be carried by patients showing no symptoms, then unwittingly spread to other, potentially more vulnerable members of society.