West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute uses wearable smart technology to predict the onset of viral infections like COVID-19.
Leslie Crossley, registered nurse, sizes providers in the WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital Medical Intensive Care Unit for their Oura Rings.
For the past two years, the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI), led by Dr. Ali Rezai, has used wearable smart technology to study human health and disease conditions such as addiction and chronic pain. In March, RNI expanded its research to viral infections, detecting signs and symptoms before they start.
With a combination of the Oura Ring—a health-tracking wearable— the RNI Health app, and AI machine learning, RNI can predict viral symptoms three days before their onset with 90 percent accuracy. How? Holistically. The Oura Ring measures temperature, heart and respiratory rate, and sleep patterns in wearers, and the RNI Health app screens for cognitive fatigue and other physiological symptoms. The data is then analyzed and, if a user’s health index is low, the wearer will be warned of their potential pre-symptomatic status—a possible breakthrough in reducing the spread of viral infections like COVID-19.
“Fundamentally, it serves as an early warning system that may facilitate triaging—who should get tested as a priority, given limited resources,” Dr. Rezai says.
The four-month study has seen several thousand participants, everyone from frontline healthcare workers and dentists and dental hygienists to daycare and nursing home workers and first responders, fitted with what is being called “digital PPE.” As the study continues, RNI hopes to predict symptoms further in advance and develop technology specific for identifying COVID-19.
images courtesy of WVU Medicine