Smartwatches have gotten considerably better, especially with size, battery life, performance and signal strength. It is being believed that wearable technology could play a very important role in curtailing the pandemic, as well as some other communicable diseases. As per latest reports, a smartwatch can provide sufficient information that can prove beneficial in determining possible coronavirus infection a few days before an individual is diagnosed with the virus, after doing a test.

 Several smartwatches, including Apple Watch, Garmin, and Fitbit watches, can indicate whether an individual is positive for COVID-19, even before the symptoms are experience, at which time they have become symptomatic and tests could detect the presence of the virus.

According to a research conducted at Mount Sinai Health System, the researchers discovered that the Apple Watch can efficiently detect or notice subtle changes in a person’s heartbeat, which can further be used to check if the person has contracted COVID virus or not. This signal or indication could come as early as a week before the person may actually start feeling sick or even before the infection was confirmed via the COVID test.

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The Study involved about 300 health care workers in the Mount Sinai medical facility who wore Apple Watches for 153 days. Apple was not part of the Mount Sinai Study but is aware of the potentials of its smartwatches.

Smartwatch Detect COVID-19

The study analysed Heart Rate Variability — the variation in time between a person’s heartbeats, which is also an indicator of how efficiently person’s immune system is working. Persons who had COVID-19 were seen to have lower heart rate variability, as against COVID-negative persons who recorded a higher variability in the time between heartbeats.

It is important to note that a high heart rate variability does not indicate an elevated heart rate, but rather shows that a person’s nervous system is fairly active, adaptable, and could be better in coping with stressful situations.

Stanford University also conducted an independent study in which the participants were asked to wear different activity trackers from Garmin, Fitbit, Apple, and others, discovered that nearly 81% of COVID-19 positive participants experienced an elevated increase in their resting heart rates up to nine full days before symptoms actually began to be recorded which, as per the study, showed the onset of symptoms.

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The Stanford researchers used the smartwatch data to correctly identify up to 66% of COVID-19 cases, four to seven days before the participants showed symptoms, as reported in their study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering in November 2020. The study observed data from 32 people who tested positive for COVID-19 among 5,000 participants.

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