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Could your Fitbit detect Covid-19 early? Massive new study aims to find out

Fitbit has announced a large-scale study which could help determine whether wearable devices can play a valuable role in the ongoing fight against Covid-19.

The soon-to-be Google-owned company is undertaking a study that aims to discover whether Fitbit data can detect the presence of the illness before the wearer begins to experience symptoms.

Fitbit says the study will appear directly within the app and is open to all users (21 and over) in the US and Canada who “have had or currently have COVID-19, or symptoms consistent with the flu.”

Participants will be asked a few questions, which will be cross-referenced with Fitbit data in an attempt to identify early biological indicators. Fitbit doesn’t go into detail on what those indicators may be, but perhaps a higher resting heart rate and poorer sleep may be among them. That’s speculation on our part.

Related: Best Fitbit 2020

If the data is informative, Fitbit will attempt to build an algorithm that could alert Fitbit wearers they may be unwell before they know it. Such indications could encourage users to get themselves tested or limit their contact with other people in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

The company, which is working with the Scripps Research Translational Institute and the Stanford Medicine Healthcare Innovation Lab will ask users:

  • Whether or not you have, have had, or may have had flu or COVID-19
  • Any symptoms you are experiencing or may have experienced
  • Additional related details regarding your medical history and demographics

Back in March, the Whoop company, which makes a strap designed for elite athletes, began linking heart rate variability data and diminished recovery from strain with the onset of Covid-19. However, the greater number of users Fitbit could potentially mean a larger sample size and could add more weight to findings. Let’s hope the survey bears fruit.


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