The One Thing You're Wearing That Can Tell You If You Have Coronavirus

Researchers are studying how this one popular item could detect coronavirus early on.

Health has never been more important than it is today. With the coronavirus still infecting people around the world, it's crucial to not only maintain your personal hygiene but also to keep your body in tip-top shape. Thankfully, it's easier than ever to check your health. In fact, according to Gallup, one in five U.S. adults use health apps and fitness trackers. And now, researchers say your Fitbit or smartwatch may even be able to save your life by alerting you if you have coronavirus.

On May 21, Fitbit launched a COVID-19 study to see if the wearable tracker can detect coronavirus before symptoms appear. The company, which has more than 29 million active users worldwide, is asking adults in the U.S. and Canada if they have had the flu or coronavirus as well as any symptoms they experienced. Using the survey results as well as health data collected from the wristband, Fitbit will build an algorithm that could potentially warn users if there are any changes in their vital signs that could point to illness.

an athletic woman checks her fitbit

This study is just one of many that indicate that wearable technology could help detect infectious diseases. Scripps Research Translational Institute and the Stanford Medicine Healthcare Innovation Lab are both using Fitbits, Apple Watches, and other similar wearables to see if they can predict sickness by analyzing data patterns of resting heart rates, temperature changes, and sleep schedules.

So far, the results look promising. Researchers at Stanford University found that they could detect the coronavirus in 11 of 14 confirmed patients, according to The Washington Post. They could even see one patient's heart rate spike nine days before symptom onset.

In another study, researchers at West Virginia University's Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute found that data from an Oura ring—a device that monitors heart rate, breathing, and temperature—can predict when people will get a fever or cough up to three days in advance of the symptoms, when they're the most contagious. These real-time virus trackers could be a game changer in curbing future outbreaks. And for more ways tech could save the world, check out This One Thing Could Stop the Spread of Coronavirus Without a Vaccine.

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