Fitbit wants to find out if wearables can detect coronavirus

Fitbit is collaborating in new studies that aim to find out if wearable devices can detect the coronavirus, officially called COVID-19 — and it needs your help. 

Fitbit’s participation is part of a combined effort between research already underway with The Scripps Research Institute’s DETECT Study and Stanford Medicine’s COVID-19 wearables study to see if wearables can help with early detection when it comes to infectious diseases. 

People with Fitbit devices are encouraged to participate by signing up through the new COVID-19 Resource tab in the mobile app or by enrolling online. 

Researchers are especially interested in participants who are health care workers or those who are higher-risk for the coronavirus. Fitbit will also donate wearables to health care workers who want to participate in the study. 

The study will collect data like heart rate, skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation, and more to see if these factors measured by wearable devices could help identify an infectious disease like the coronavirus before symptoms even start. 

“From our previously published work, we know that data collected from consumer wearables can significantly improve the prediction of influenza-like illness,” Dr. Eric Topol, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said in a statement.

“We see an enormous opportunity to enhance disease tracking for improved population health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are pleased to join this new consortium to bring value to the research community.”

Digital Trends reached out to Fitbit to find out how long the study is expected to last and how many participants are needed. We will update this story when we hear back. 

Crowdsourcing information through encouraging people to participate in studies like this one or by downloading experimental apps have become a way for scientists and researchers to conduct important coronavirus research, like how the virus spreads. 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created a free, open-source app that shares location data between people’s phones to let them know if they have come in contact with someone who has the coronavirus.  

The app’s creators said it would only be successful if people actually use it and encouraged people to download the prototype version of the app on Android and iOS devices.

Google and Apple also announced plans for apps on their Android and iOS devices to help track the spread of the coronavirus.

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.

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