Your smartwatch may be useful in counting your steps or measuring your physiological parameters, but now it can also help you detect the risk for certain diseases. Stanford University researchers developed a study in the sense and found that it can detect common colds or diabetes.
The study involved monitoring 60 people who used smartwatches through their everyday lives. The results showed that these watches or other biosensor devices can warn people when they are about to catch a cold or even detect the onset of diabetes or Lyme disease. Researchers want to be able to warn people when their health is in danger.
Smartwatches and similar devices have not been used so far for detecting illnesses. The researchers took advantage of the fact that these devices are portable and picked up a series of measurements for a period of two years. All these measurements showed any deviation that occurred in the participants’ bodies, including the change of heart rate or skin temperature.
Since these devices record these measurements every time they are worn and pile up together all they have gathered, the deviations are immediately noticed. Such deviations coincide with the moment when a person gets ill. Studies showed that the recordings of increased heart rate and skin temperature had really coincided with the moment when people got sick.
They developed a program that took from the archive of the smartwatches the required data in order to detect the onset of a disease. This program helped in detecting several common colds and even a case of Lyme disease by detecting an increased heart rate and a decreased level of oxygen. The person affected was Michael Snyder, the lead researcher in the study. After consulting a physician, the presence of the illness was confirmed.
The program is useful for signaling people they are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. They often do not know of this risk, but a simple test may show the variations in heart rate pattern that are usually not present in people without this risk factor.
The study may help smartwatches become not only a workout assistant, but also a health dashboard that helps a person identify an illness even before the symptoms are visible.
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