Stanford study to probe if Apple Watch can detect coronavirus

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Apple Watch alerts user of irregular heart rhythms in sleep
Apple Watch study to look for ways to spot COVID-19.
Photo: Apple

Could the Apple Watch detect if you have coronavirus using data of your heart’s rhythm and respiration? A Stanford University study is planning to find out.

New research, reported on Thursday by Gizmodo, is looking for people with various smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, to be part of a ‘Wearables Data’ study.

The study’s overview states:

“We are trying to establish if data collected from wearable devices can be used to predict the onset of an infectious disease such as COVID-19 before the actual symptoms start. We will collect data such as heart rate, skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation, etc.”

Selected participants will need to wear a device all the time, download and use a specialized app, and respond to a daily symptom survey. 

Two-year study planned with no guarantees

The study will last for up to two years. The daily survey can be filled out online or via the app, and will take one to two minutes per day to complete.

Those in the study will be asked to export data collected by the Watch. While not mandatory, those selected will be asked to hand over access to their electronic medical records.

“We’re getting a [ton] of people enrolling who have a smartwatch and have been ill,” Michael Snyder, director of genomics and personalized medicine at Stanford Medicine, told Gizmodo.

“There’s lots of smartwatch wearers out there. There’s 30 million active users from Fitbit, millions from Apple Watch. We’re talking tens of millions of people, all with these smartwatches that could be health protectors for infectious diseases like COVID-19,” he said.

Snyder said they are working at “full blast” around the clock on the study, but that there is no guarantee results will prove COVID-19 could be detected by simply wearing a smartwatch like the ones made by Apple.

Those interested in participating in the study can apply at this link.