Barring any major shifts between now and the end of next month, professional basketball could be back by way of a modified season finale at Disney World in Orlando, FL.  A lot can happen between now and then, especially since there have been reports recently of a resurgence of COVID-19, but the league is still pushing forward, hoping that the cases are only isolated and that some innovation means they won’t turn into a thorn in the NBA’s side.

If the schedule stays intact and players take to the courts on July 30, there are a couple of tools that should be available by then to help mitigate any health concerns.  They may come too late for players like Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertrans, who has already announced he will sit out the restart.

NBA Mood Ring COVID-19 Innovation

Everything gets an upgrade because of new technology.  Ice boxes became refrigerators and refrigerators now have a voice that allows them to talk to other devices.  Cars can start, and drive themselves, automatically.  Watches, which used to be designed to tell time, are now able to tell you when you’re turning into a couch potato.  It’s only fitting, then, that a decades-old favorite piece of jewelry has entered the new-fashioned world of tech.  The mood ring meets innovation in its latest COVID-19 edition, and it will be available to NBA players.

The new mood ring is actually a “smart” ring designed by Oura.  It can reportedly track health data when worn and can even alert if the wearer is about to show signs of the coronavirus.  The Oura Ring could be given to all NBA players ahead of the upcoming games, provided it lives up to its developers’ potential.  It is now being reviewed by Scripps Research, which is also exploring other devices that could be used to monitor players.

According to Yardbarker, “All players and staff members will be given the option to wear the diagnostic rings, which have sensors that keep track of heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature and other important health statistics. The data is put into an algorithm to predict the onset of COVID-19. Wearing the rings is optional, and participants won’t have access to their own data. It will be sent to the University of Michigan to create an illness risk index, according to the report.”

Don’t Invade My Personal Space

Players are also going to have to be issued Disney MagicBands and proximity alarms.  The devices are designed to trace contact with others so that, should someone test positive, it will be easier to identify individuals with whom that person has had contact.  The proximity alarms will also work as a type of reminder to follow social distancing guidelines and keep everyone out of each other’s personal space.

Obviously, the devices are meant for use off the court – it would be extremely difficult to have a basketball if there weren’t any contact.  However, the NBA will be reportedly implementing other measures and innovation to use in conjunction with the contests in an effort to try to limit exposure to COVID-19, should any cases arise.

More Health Oversight Coming

Inside the bubble that players and staff are going to call home for the next several months as the NBA season gets underway, there will be constant health checks, smart thermometers and other measures implemented, and everyone residing in the cocoon is “prohibited from engaging in group activities until the monitoring is accomplished and/or may be required to leave the campus permanently,” according to the NBA’s guidance for the season return.  There is no ability to opt out of the policies or restrictions, and anyone caught breaking the rules is subject to fines and an immediate suspension for the rest of the season.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has tried to put everyone at ease, while motivating them to follow the rules at the same time.  He said last week, “It will entail enormous sacrifice for everyone involved.  Listen, It’s not an ideal situation trying to find our new normal in the middle of a pandemic… I can understand how some players feel it’s not for them.”

The first training camps are only two weeks away.  With Bertrans making the first move to sit out the games, it’s possible that many more players could follow.  However, for the most part, it seems like the schedule is moving forward as planned.