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CQUniversity research looks at whether wearables could help early detection of Coronavirus

CQUniversity research looks at whether wearables could help early detection of Coronavirus
April 8, 2020

A team of researchers at Central Queensland University (CQUniversity) is setting out to study whether subtle hints offered by wearable fitness devices could help identify asymptomatic Coronavirus cases, potentially providing a critical advantage in the race to trace and slow the global spread of COVID-19.

With some of those infected not showing any symptoms a factor that has made the Coronavirus outbreak so severe (and some of those infected but not showing symptoms going about their lives as normal, infecting even more people), the CQUniversity researchers are partnering with fitness tech start-up WHOOP to investigate a potential connection between changes in respiratory rate and COVID-19 symptoms.

The research team plans to conduct a study using physiological data, collected via the WHOOP Strap 3.0 - a wrist worn wearable device - from hundreds of self-identified COVID-19 cases among WHOOP members, to better understand the current health crisis.

The study will also mine data from the WHOOP Journal, an interactive feature which allows members to track a variety of daily behaviours against their physiological data with real-time feedback on their bodies.

Collaborating with Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, the study will use the WHOOP data to look to find out whether a noticeable increase in respiratory rate is a measurable precursor of COVID-19 symptoms.

Will Ahmed, founder and Chief Executive of WHOOP, advised "WHOOP data may be able to help identify the coronavirus during the incubation period before someone feels sick.

Professor Greg Roach, CQUniversity's Head of Sleep & Circadian Physiology Research, added “by collating contextual factors collected in the WHOOP Journal with physiological trends in raw data, we may be able to provide insights into the health implications before, during and after suspected cases of COVID-19."

Launched on 9th March, The WHOOP Journal includes COVID-19 as an option for members to monitor their symptoms. Members have the ability to complete surveys and daily condition check-ins as well as to opt-in to participate in studies like this one.

In addition, WHOOP has released an update to its mobile apps, which will make it easier for members to monitor and interpret their respiratory rates.

Another wellness wearable that is being used in COVID-19 early detection research is the ‘smart ring’ Oura.

Around 2,000 emergency medical workers in the USA city of San Francisco, have been given Oura rings to wear, in order to track their body temperature and other vital signs.

The move is part of a study, by University of California San Francisco (UCSF), to try to identify the early onset of COVID-19 and help curb its spread.

As well as mining the data from the medical workers, UCSF will ask Oura Ring’s approximately 150,000 users to share their medical data in order for researchers to try and develop an algorithm that could detect the earliest stages of coronavirus.

The ultimate goal of the research is to create a COVID-19 early detection device, which the team hopes to be able to provide by late 2020 - when the possible ‘second wave’ of coronavirus is expected to hit.

Image courtesy of WHOOP.

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26th April 2019 - Study shows wearable fitness technology gets cancer survivors active

19th December 2018 - Wearable technology among the fitness trends identified for 2019

14th September 2019 - World-first sees Fitbit integration into Singapore’s public health program

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