Apple Watch is one of the most popular wearables worldwide and according to the results of the latest study by researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, it is capable of predicting COVID-19 up to a week earlier than normal tests.
The use of wearables to fight the coronavirus is not new. The best-known example is Oura, a ring used in the NBA to detect the first symptoms of COVID-19. However, not everyone has a device like that; and so far, the main use wearables have had in the fight against the coronavirus has been in tracking contagions.
Apple Watch is capable of predicting COVID-19
Now, this study shows that it would be possible to use a device that is already on the wrists of millions of people around the world to detect COVID-19. The study was based not only on the Apple Watch but on its use in conjunction with an iPhone and a specially developed app to identify the data obtained by the smartwatch.
Study participants used the app to monitor and record their health; in addition, they had to fill out a daily form about possible COVID-19 symptoms they might feel, including factors such as stress that are recorded by the Apple Watch.
The main signal the researchers focused on is heart rate variability (HRV), which can be an indicator of stress on the patient’s nervous system.
This information was combined with symptoms already associated with COVID-19, such as fever, headache, dry cough, gastrointestinal problems, loss of taste and odors, and more.
Smartwatches might detect symptoms earlier than normal tests
The data, obtained from hundreds of people over several months shortly after the start of the global pandemic, allowed researchers to predict COVID-19 infections up to a week before they were confirmed by conventional tests such as PCR.
The researchers believe that the great advantage of using a wearable such as the Apple Watch to detect COVID-19 is that it allows them to anticipate contagions and isolate those infected before they come into contact with others. The sooner COVID-19 is diagnosed, the sooner measures such as confinement can be implemented; that in return can reduce the number of people infected.
But more importantly, this system works remotely; there is no need for the patient to go anywhere. The smartwatch can automatically alert you that you may have COVID-19 symptoms and allows you to take action before you even take the test.
Researchers will now focus on testing whether it is possible to get more information from a wearable such as the Apple Watch in the fight against the coronavirus. Maybe smartwatches are the key for predicting symptoms.