Your smart watch may help catch disease early: study

Your smart watch may not only measure your steps and physiological parameters, but also help detect your risk for diseases such as cold and diabetes early, a new Stanford study has found.

By following 60 people through their everyday lives, researchers at Stanford University in the US found that smart watches and other personal biosensor devices can help flag when people have colds and even signal the onset of complex conditions like Lyme disease and diabetes.

“We want to tell when people are healthy and also catch illnesses at their earliest stages,” said Michael Snyder, Professor at Stanford and senior author of the study.

Smart watches and similar portable devices are commonly used for measuring steps and physiological parameters, but have not generally been used to detect illness.

Snyder’s team took advantage of the portability and ease of using wearable devices to collect a myriad of measurements from participants for up to two years to detect deviations from their normal baseline for measurements such as heart rate and skin temperature.

Because the devices continuously follow these measures, they potentially provide rapid means to detect the onset of diseases that change your physiology.

Many of these deviations coincided with times when people became ill. Heart rate and skin temperature tends to rise when people become ill, said Snyder.

His team developed a software programme for data from a smart watch called ‘Change of Heart’ to detect these deviations and sense when people are becoming sick.

The devices were able to detect common colds and in one case helped detect Lyme disease – in Snyder, who participated in the study. (more)

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