ESPN Could your smartwatch detect the coronavirus?

May 11, 2020

Fitbit wearers can also opt in to be part of the PROTECT Study at Stanford University. There, researchers are using data collected from users of Fitbit, three other smartwatches — including Apple Watch — and one smart ring. Specifically, Dr. Michael Snyder’s laboratory at Stanford is studying data from smartwatch users who have a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus, have been exposed to someone who has a confirmed or suspected case, or are at a higher risk of exposure, such as health care or grocery store employees.

One of the metrics Snyder and his team are focusing on is how a smartwatch can measure heart rate and body temperature.

Heart rate is the number of times a heart beats in one minute. Though it can vary greatly from person to person, the normal resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100. A lower rate means a person is in peak cardiovascular shape. Unusual numbers on the high or low scale could indicate an underlying illness. The challenge is that a heart rate can spike because of various factors including age, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, activity, weight and medications.

When you’re sick, “your heart rate goes up before you’re congested. … So, worst-case scenario, it goes up around the time you’re feeling yucky, but it probably goes up before that, we think,” Snyder explained.