Stanford Medical and Fitbit want to use wearables to predict infections, COVID-19

Stanford Medical and Fitbit want to use wearables to predict infections, COVID-19
In the fight with the novel coronavirus, humanity is trying to use every tool at its disposal. Smartphones already track the spread of the disease through various apps and provide useful information from trusted sources. Last month, smart thermometers were added to the coronavirus-fighting arsenal, followed by smart rings tracking the body temperature of ER doctors.

Now Stanford Medical is collaborating with Fitbit and Scripps Research to use wearables in early detection and prediction of infections, including COVID-19. The team wants to develop new algorithms that will analyze various data from wearables, like body temperature and heart rate readings, to detect early signs of illness.

“Smartwatches and other wearables make many, many measurements per day — at least 250,000, which is what makes them such powerful monitoring devices,” said Michael Snyder, Ph.D., professor, and chair of genetics at the Stanford School of Medicine. “My lab wants to harness that data and see if we can identify who’s becoming ill as early as possible.”

A pilot study will collect data from five different brands of wearables, including rings and smartwatches. This data will be matched against a questionnaire to develop five different algorithms, one for each brand. The algorithms will then be used to detect various health conditions, including COVID-19. Fitbit is actively participating by donating 1000 devices for the research and giving users a chance to participate in the study.

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