We have weather forecasts for decades. Predicting our short-term health is much more difficult. However, knowing early on that we may be affected by the flu or COVID19 could be extremely helpful. The good news: Wearable technology, like smartwatches, is beginning to provide just these early warnings Jessilyn Dunn is a biomedical engineer at Duke University in Durham, N.
She was part of a team that analyzed heart rate and d other data from wearable devices Smartwatch-type systems contain sensors. These collect data, very numerous, which can indicate a state of health or an illness. Dunn’s team had 49 volunteers wear sensor-laden bracelets before and after receiving a cold or flu virus.At least once per second, these bracelets recorded heart rate, body movements, skin temperature, etc.
In nine out of 10 recruits, this data showed signs of developing the disease at least a day before the onset of symptoms. The researchers described their findings Sept. 29 in the JAMA Network Open. This early warning, Dunn says, can help nip infections in the bud. This could ward off severe symptoms that would otherwise send vulnerable people to hospitals.
And knowing you’re sick before you have symptoms may encourage you to lie low to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. However, these systems are not yet ready for the real world, notes virologist Stacey SchultzCherry. He works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. also very preliminary,” explains SchultzCherry.”Much more work is needed before this approach can be rolled on a larger scale.