Fitbit owners to help create a test to detect early signs of COVID-19

Covid Collab app needs Fitbit users to learn more about the disease
Lifestyle photo of Fitbit Versa 2.,,Photographer: Matt Hawthorne.
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Fitbit's fitness trackers and smartwatches could prove pivotal to detecting the early signs of Covid-19.

Owners of one of Fitbit's wearables are being recruited in multiple studies, at the COVID-Collab research team at King's College London, the Scripps Research Translational Institute and the Stanford Medicine Healthcare Innovation Lab in the US.

The Mass Science app from Kings College is designed to monitor wearables devices – including those by Fitbit – and aims to match Covid symptoms to data such as heart rate as well as sleep and activity.

While having a Fitbit device isn't essential to enrolling in the study, the team behind the app believes the data provided by those trackers and watches could offer vital insights.

The goal is to collate enough of that data to analyse and compare data from periods of illness with normal healthy periods, it could potentially create a useful test that can be used for early warning signs of Covid-19 and to develop a better idea of how the disease spreads.

WareableFitbit owners to help create a test to detect early signs of COVID-19

It's also hoped harnessing this data could be a viable solution to track the disease nationally or locally, understand the most important symptoms and learn more about social distancing measures and how they can affect transmission rate.

Throughout the pandemic, researchers have looked to the role wearables could play in the fight against Covid. Whether that's improving the testing process or helping with the early detection of the disease.

In May, Fitbit launched a COVID-19 Study that owners of its devices could access from within its companion smartphone app.

Other wearable makers have been trying to do their bit too. Ava, makers of a fertility wearable felt it could play its part in filling the gaps in the Covid-19 testing process.

The Oura smart ring is also being used in studies to see whether the wearable could be used to detect early signs of the disease. It's also being used by the NBA as a way to help keep track of player vitals, so the season can be safely started.

A similar idea is happening for PGA Tour players and staff who have been given a Whoop Strap to help detect symptoms and prevent the disease spreading.

The latest development with the COVID-Collab and its move to embrace Fitbit data is another sign that with more people now than ever wearing fitness trackers and smartwatches, they could be key to quickly learning more about coronavirus.

The Mass Science app is free to download now for Android phones and iPhones. So if you own a Fitbit and fancy doing your bit, you know what to do.

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Michael Sawh

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Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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