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Apple Watch, Fitbit devices can detect early COVID-19 symptoms: 5 things to know

The Stanford University researchers are finding out ways to turn smart wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit smart bands into COVID-symptoms detector.

twitter-logoAnkita Chakravarti | July 24, 2020 | Updated 10:45 IST
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Apple Watch, Fitbit devices can detect early COVID-19 symptoms.

Highlights

  • Stanford University researchers are finding out ways to turn smart wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit smart bands into COVID-symptoms detector.
  • Researchers had launched the  Coronavirus Wearables Study to find out whether the smartwatches or bands can be used to detect early COVID-19 symptoms.
  •  The devices that are being used to derive data are Apple Watch, Garmin, and Fitbit smartwatches and activity trackers.

Do you wear a smartwatch or a smart band? If yes, your smart wearable will now reveal more than just the number of steps you have taken and the number of calories you have burnt, it will now be used to detect early COVID-19 symptoms. The Stanford University researchers are finding out ways to turn smart wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit smart bands into COVID-symptoms detector.

The coronavirus pandemic is in no mood to slow down across the world, the cases are doubling up every day and in such difficult times, what could be better than having a smartwatch that could tell you whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or not. The researchers at Stanford University had launched the Coronavirus Wearables Study to find out whether the smartwatches or bands can be used to detect early COVID-19 symptoms. Here's what we know so far

— The team of researchers at Stanford had enrolled 5000 people for the Coronavirus Wearables Study. It had examined the data derived from the smartwatches of 31 COVID positive users. The study claims that out of 31, the smartwatches had the information about 80 percent of users stored. The data collected showed that the smartwatches had indicated infection even before the symptoms appeared.

—The researchers say that a smartwatch can detect changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, and other important data that is collected by the smartwatch. All these changes could happen in the body due to COVID-19 infection and once the smartwatch notifies about the early symptoms of COVID, an infected user and seek treatment and isolate himself to curb the spread of the virus."When you get ill, even before you know it, your body starts changing, your heart rate goes up," said Professor Michael Snyder of Stanford University School of Medicine, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

—The study is still on and the researchers are looking at enrolling more and more people. The participants who want to become a part of the research will have to share data from their wearables including heart rate, skin temperature, and blood oxygen saturation. This could be done via an application that has been created by Stanford's bioinformatics team. However, in order to join the study, a participant should be either COVID positive or be at risk of contracting it—for example healthcare workers and be above 18 years of age. The devices that are being used to derive data are Apple Watch, Garmin, and Fitbit smartwatches and activity trackers.

— Professor Synder of Stanford University says that it would be useful in the cases of asymptomatic patients, who have no visible symptoms but there are changes inside his body that a smartwatch can easily detect. In one of the cases, he revealed that a smartwatch could detect COVID-19 infection nine days before he started showing symptoms."We can tell when someone's getting ill before symptoms. That's super powerful. You can tell people to stay at home. Don't go out, infect other people," Snyder said.

—Once an increase in heart rate has been detected in a user, he or she will be told that they might get sick through the app that was has been created. In that case, the user can visit a doctor and avoid meeting other people until the test results come out. Interestingly, this isn't the first time a smart wearables is being used to test health-related issues. The Apple Watch has earlier been used to check whether it can detect severe heart conditions which can later lead to strokes and attacks. Apple in many instances have alerted the users that they may be getting a heart attack.

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