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Studies reveal smartwatch biometrics can detect COVID-19 before symptoms surface

Valencell launches software library for biometrics in wearables
Studies reveal smartwatch biometrics can detect COVID-19 before symptoms surface

Findings from some leading research institutions in the United States have confirmed that smartwatches and other wearables measuring biometrics like heart-rate variability have the ability to detect if a person is COVID-19 positive even before the symptoms appear or the virus is detected by a test.

According to CBS News, these findings from institutions such as the Mount Sinai Health System in New York and California’s Stanford University, show these devices can detect the presence of the virus by taking the pulse of the individual’s heartbeat, skin temperature as well as other physiological and biometric features.

Some of the devices cited by the report include Apple Watch, Garmin and Fitbit watches, and experts say the technology used by them could go a long way in helping check the spread of the pandemic as well as other diseases that are transmissible.

Some members of the research team cited by CBS News said their intention was to use available technology to find out how quickly a coronavirus or other infection in someone can be detected even before they suffer symptoms or carry out laboratory tests.

“Our goal was to use tools to identify infections at time of infection or before people knew they were sick. We already knew that heart rate variability markers change as inflammation develops in the body, and Covid-19 is an incredibly inflammatory event…It allows us to predict that people are infected before they know it,” Rob Hirten, an assistant professor of medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told CBS MoneyWatch.

As part of the study, the researchers said they monitored 300 Mount Sinai health care workers who wore Apple Watches over a period of five months – between April 29 and September 29, the CBS report noted.

The findings, they say, could prove effective for fighting the spread of the virus as it is has been discovered that a significant amount of transmission is done by asymmetric carriers, citing a publication of the U.S Centers for Disease Control.

“Right now, we rely on people saying they’re sick and not feeling well, but wearing an Apple Watch doesn’t require any active user input and can identify people who might be asymptomatic. It’s a way to better control infectious diseases,” Hirten said.

Meanwhile, the CBS report also mentioned that another study showed differences in heart beat rates of some coronavirus positive patients before they experienced any symptoms. Alarm systems were created for the wearable devices to alert wearers on their heartbeat situation and help them keep a distance from people if they have indications they might be infected.

Valencell unveils software library for consumer, medical wearables

A library which enables wearable device makers to embed Valencell’s patented biometric sensor software on their ARM Cortex M4F microcontroller unit (MCU) of choice, and which allows them the possibility to upgrade existing device designs and enhance future products without major hardware design element changes, has been launched.

In a company announcement, Valencell said it had also rolled out a new generation of its benchmark sensor systems for wrist devices and three other wearables (BW1.5, BW5.0 and BW6.0) which are all library-ready and have biometric sensor systems including the hardware (emitters, detectors, optical lensing) and software (firmware and algorithms) in flexible integration configurations.

Matt Smith, vice president of product management at Valencell said the company recognized the fact that tremendous growth in the market of wearables has prompted the need to support the diversity that comes with hardware configurations.

“The Valencell Library has been one of our most requested roadmap items from Valencell customers, and we’re happy to give customers the flexibility to meet their design and performance requirements,” said Smith.

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