Apple and other smart wearable devices typically linked to fitness and workouts are being used as ways to identify people who are potentially asymptomatic. This can be revolutionary as the biggest cause for the spread of the virus is Asymptomatic patients, where they can unknowingly spread the disease.
Changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, and other biometrics measured constantly by the devices may flag the early stages of virus infection, so an otherwise healthy-looking person knows to self-isolate and seek a COVID-19 diagnostic test.
Oura Rings in NBA
In an attempt to mitigate the silent spread of COVID-19 by flagging potential onset symptoms, the NBA partnered with Oura to provide rings to players in Orlando. Players in the NBA’s bubble will have the option to wear Oura’s titanium ring, which costs the general public upwards of $300. It will monitor one’s heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate and temperature—among other metrics—to craft a Risk Score.
This Risk Score is being used by the NBA to determine if players are safe to play. The NBA’s version of the Oura ring connects to an app that coaches and managers can access, showing a risk score calculated from some sets of data: temperature, resting heart rate, respiration and heart rate variability (or HRV). The consumer version of the ring’s software shows those readouts plus others in a larger daily report called “Readiness,” which give users a score.
Do Smart Wearables detect early signs of COVID-19?
Despite what you may have heard before, these wearables don’t take specific body temperatures. These wearables can not be used as a health device like a thermometer to read exact temperatures. Instead, the ring’s sensors show relative gains and losses in a user’s daily body temperature.
Recently, Stanford University School of Medicine 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 revealed that the smartwatches had indicated infection even before the symptoms appeared.
“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 by Reuters
Professor Synder 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
Snyder is a wearables evangelist and uses multiple devices daily, including three different smartwatches on his wrists, a ring with sensors on one finger, a continuous glucose monitor, an environmental exposure monitor and a radiation monitor. All of the devices feed data into his iPhone, which he also uses to measure his steps.
Stanford researchers are among several groups examining whether wearable fitness devices such as the Fitbit. Oura or Apple Watch can provide an early warning.
Pivoting from sleep monitoring to Symptom Detection can prove revolutionary as the death toll continues to rise due to COVID-19. Use of smart wearables to detect early signs of COVID-19 will help contain the spread. This can also be used by authorities for contact tracing and containment of individuals.
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.