Connected watches are able to detect coronavirus, study shows. According to the researchers, smartwatches equipped with a heart monitor can indeed detect the first signs of Covid-19. Thanks to their built-in sensor, watches are able to detect small changes in the heart rate of the wearer. This is one of the warning signs of infection.
According to a study by researchers at Mount Sinai, a New York-based medical research center, smartwatches like the Apple Watch are able to effectively screen for Covid-19. The watches are “Able to report the onset of Covid-19 for up to seven days” before a PCR screening test and the appearance of the first symptoms.
As part of the study, researchers followed a group of 297 healthcare professionals between April 29 and September 29, 2020. All participants constantly wore an Apple Watch connected to an iPhone. All Apple Watches, including the more affordable Apple Watch SE or older models launched since 2015, have a heart monitor on board. Since 2018, Apple has also included an electrocardiogram (ECG), which is however absent from the SE model.
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A connected watch to screen asymptomatic individuals
For the purposes of the test, an application capable of measuring their heart rate in detail was installed on the watch. Robert P. Hirten, the doctor in charge of the study, says that the Apple Watches then detected glaring changes in heart rate carriers when the first symptoms appear. The analysis of the readings therefore makes it possible to corroborate the diagnosis made by a professional.
In the two weeks after the onset of symptoms (fever, cough, chills, pain, etc.) and the diagnosis, the Apple Watch recorded a return to normal in the heart rate. Ultimately, the analysis of data provided by connected watches allows better understand when the virus attacks the body. A study from Stanford University supports the same point. During a similar experiment, connected watches detected the presence of Covid-19 with a success rate of 81%.
“Developing a way to identify people who might be sick before they even know they are infected would be an important breakthrough in managing COVID-19” Dr. Robert P. Hirten says. Thanks to connected watches, it is also possible to identify asymptomatic people before they contaminate those around them.
“We can use these new technologies to better respond to changing health needs” estimates the doctor of medicine. Note that Tim Cook himself, CEO of Apple, briefly mentioned the study of Mount Sinai during the keynote presentation of Apple Watch Series 6 last September.
Source: Mount Sinai