COVID-19 is very good in hiding that at times it goes undetected in the human body. In some cases, it stays undetected for as many as five days for infected people until they eventually show symptoms. During that time, they could have been spreading the disease to other people without realizing that they themselves are sick.

Scientists have developed technologies to easily detect people infected with the coronavirus to cure them immediately and prevent further spread of the disease. One of these technologies is the smart ring that scientists have been developing to detect flu and is now being studied to use also in detecting COVID-19.

Magic or Science?

In the fight against COVID-19, one team of researchers is trying to study smart rings as a way to predict if someone will test positive before showing any symptoms. According to Dr. Ali Rezai, one of the researchers, it is just like wearing a wedding ring except it has sensors inside that measures your heart rate, temperature, and other physiological aspects of respiration's sleep.

Rezai and a team of neuroscientists from the West Virginia University have been studying the smart rings for the last three years. They use it to 30,000 patients to determine if someone has seasonal flu before they show symptoms, to help patients with pain management, addiction, and Alzheimer's.

The scientists quickly adapted the AI technology used in the smart rings to detect those with high risk exposure with COVID-19 positive people into the ER. Presently, there are 400 front line health workers wearing the ring from West Virginia to Pennsylvania New York City and some areas in Europe.

This new smart ring technology is being called the digital personal protection equipment since it identifies workers 24 hours before they can possibly show symptoms and limit the spread. Rezai said that when a person gets influenza or COVID-19, the body is affected for days before it shows any symptoms, so using this technology is a great help.

The ring works by the use of its sensors that will monitor the nervous system, heart rate, respiration, and temperature. It also measures the person's sleep, cognitive ability, as well as behavioral and psychological factors.

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As of now, doctors are working to improve it in hopes that this artificial intelligence technology will detect the virus three to four days before any symptoms emerge. Medical professionals have overwhelmingly positive response to the new technology as it is just a simple ring and an app that they need to protect themselves.

Syndromic surveillance using a wearable

Dr. Simin Liu, an epidemiologist and surgery professor said that the smart ring could have privacy implications of constant biometric monitoring like what the smart rings are doing. However, with the situation right now, an active and voluntary participation may be necessary to finally kick this pandemic.

The idea of syndromic surveillance has been already around for some time to improve precision medicine and public health. Liu added that since there are no pharmaceuticals to treat COVID-19, scientists are left exploring non-pharmaceutical interventions like surveillance and quarantines.

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