A new study reveals your smart watch can detect when you’re getting sick.
Stanford researchers 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, PhD, Professor and Chair of Genetics at Stanford and senior author of the study. Postdoctoral scholars Xiao Li, PhD, and Jessilyn Dunn, PhD, and researcher Denis Salins share lead authorship.
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.
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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 wrote a software program 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.
This research paves the way for the smart phone to serve as a health dashboard, monitoring health and sensing early signs of illness, likely even before the person wearing it does.