Researchers from the University of California San Diego, UC San Francisco and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Lab have determined that a wearable worn on the finger can offer early detection of fever — which is a chief symptom of both the flu and COVID-19 — before other symptoms emerge.

The researchers outfitted over 50 participants with Oura rings from a Finnish manufacturer of the same name. The ring, which monitors the wearer’s temperature, heart and respiratory rates, and activity levels, offers uninterrupted data collection, according to the research team, that can be used to detect fever before any other COVID-19 symptoms — cough and fatigue among others — emerge.

Source Oura RingSource Oura Ring

Worn for periods of time, the ring would enable the wearer’s baseline temperature to be established, thereby improving efforts to identify fever peaks. Temperature spot checks — the kind being administered to enable students to enter schools or patients to enter healthcare facilities and other public places amid the COVID-19 pandemic — only offer a glimpse at such data at one moment in time. As such, this method is not as effective at detecting COVID-19 positivity.

Fever detected early in the wearer could potentially lead to early COVID-19 detection, isolation and testing, ultimately limiting the spread of the virus, according to the research team.

"The data collected has great potential to be linked with other datasets making individual and societal scale models be combined to further understand the disease," said Ilkay Altintas, the chief data science officer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. “The easier we can make to share the data and optimize the use of it through digital technologies, the quicker other researchers will make use of it in their studies."

The study, which is titled "Feasibility of continuous fever monitoring using wearable devices" was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com