Recent studies reveal that smartwatches like Apple Watch detect COVID-19 symptoms days before they surface or appear in testing. Research by leading institutions in the United States discovered that wearable devices like the smartwatch or activity trackers that measure users’ heart rates, skin temperature and other digital biomarkers can “spot coronavirus infections days before an individual is diagnosed.”
“Devices like the Apple Watch, Garmin and Fitbit watches can predict whether an individual is positive for COVID-19 even before they are symptomatic or the virus is detectable by tests, according to studies from leading medical and academic institutions, including Mount Sinai Health System in New York and Stanford University in California. Experts say wearable technology could play a vital role in stemming the pandemic and other communicable diseases.”
Wearable devices like Apple Watch detect COVID-19
CBS news reports that researchers at Mount Sinai studied the Apple Watch heart rate feature which monitors changes between each heartbeat which indicates the wellness of an individual’s immune system. It was found that Apple Watch detects even the subtle changes in heart rate “which can signal that an individual has the coronavirus, up to seven days before they feel sick or infection is detected through testing.” Rob Hirten, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City said that,
“We already knew that heart rate variability markers change as inflammation develops in the body, and Covid is an incredibly inflammatory event. It allows us to predict that people are infected before they know it.”
As an individual shows COVID-19 symptoms days after being infected, that person can spread the virus to others before testing positive. Unfortunately, this characteristic of coronavirus increases the chances of transmission. Therefore, this new breakthrough will be instrumental in decreasing the transmission rate.
Another study conducted by Stanford used a variety of wearable devices like Fitbit, Garmin and Apple and found that 81% of “coronavirus-positive participants experienced changes in their resting heart rates up to nine and a half days prior to the onset of symptoms. An extremely elevated heart rate was indicative of symptom onset.” Stanford University Professor Michael Snyder, leading the study said that,
Such technology could also help compensate for some of the shortcomings with coronavirus testing, Snyder said. “The problem is you can’t do it on people all the time, whereas these devices measure you 24/7. The smartwatch gives you back the data right away, in real time, whereas if you’re lucky you’ll get your test back in a few days.”
Right at the beginning of the pandemic, Apple and Google partnered to develop digital COVID-19 contact tracing APIs and the Cupertino tech giant also launched online and mobile screening tools in the United States.