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Report: The NBA plans to use smart rings to track player health in Orlando

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How the league will implement an array of technology to keep players safe during a pandemic

NBA: All Star-Celebrity Game Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is offering players, coaches, and essential staff access to an optional smart ring as a COVID-19 safety measure when the season resumes at Disney World on July 31st, according to a report by Jessica Golden of CNBC.

The titanium rings, produced by Finnish health technology company Oura, were originally intended for tracking heart rate, temperature, physical activity, and sleep patterns. However, a joint study conducted by the West Virginia Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute and Oura found the ring was capable of detecting Coronavirus symptoms three days in advance with 90% accuracy.

In addition to the smart ring, all team and league staff will be required to wear a social distancing alarm on their credentials. The device will set off an audio alert when the user is within six feet of another person for longer than five seconds. Though the sensor will not be mandatory for the players, the wearable technology can identify teammates and physicians and avoid sounding a false alarm. There will also be an anonymous hotline to report any protocol violations.

As an added precaution, all players will be required to wear a Disney MagicBand around the clock except during workouts and games. The Disney MagicBand will allow players a hands-free method of check into their rooms, amenities, security checkpoints, and coronavirus screenings. In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19, the Disney MagicBand could also help the league trace which people an infected person came into contact with.

While the majority of the technologies offered are going to be entirely optional, the NBA isn’t willing to budge on their mandatory daily health screening policy. This abundant collecting of personal data has some players wary of participating in the highly anticipated resumption of competitive play. Despite concerns, the league claims that information obtained will be deleted within four weeks of the end of the 2019-2020 season.

Although the NBPA was fully informed on every detail before they voted to approve the league-wide reopening, it was always going to be impossible for representatives to make every one of their constituents happy. It’s likely a few players will choose not to partake in the long-delayed restart, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has reassured players they won’t be punished for declining their Orlando invitation.