Posted in | Medical Sensor

Study Tests Viability of Wristwatch to Prevent COVID-19 Transmission

Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have been recruiting health care workers to investigate whether a wearable device—a wristwatch—can capture real-time data that alerts wearers about slight physiological variations that may suggest they are infected with COVID-19.

The wearable device being tested for COVID-19 detection. Image Credit: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The study aims to inhibit COVID-19 transmission in health care settings by enabling wearers to know that they may have been infected before clinical symptoms or signs of the virus begin, says Frank J. Penedo, PhD, associate director for cancer survivorship and translational behavioral sciences at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of psychology and medicine at the Miller School of Medicine.

The wearable device employs an algorithm to capture early signs for respiratory infection. We are recruiting 70 health care workers who do not have COVID-19 and have opted not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. We are asking that they wear the Empatica E4 watch for 30 days during non-working hours. Participants will also take a daily nasal swab to detect whether they have seroconverted to COVID-19.

Dr Frank J. Penedo, Professor of Psychology and Medicine, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami

The idea is to be able to pull biometric data such as temperature and heart rate together to see if there is a way to accurately predict seroconversion to COVID-19 prior to the development of clinical symptoms that otherwise might not be detected,” added Dr Penedo.

Theoretically, the early warning system could urge wearers to undergo a COVID-19 test to verify results from the device, then quarantine with reduced risk of the virus spread, he noted. Researchers at the Miller School of Medicine have been pioneers in performing National Institutes of Health-funded trials investigating the use of wearable devices for different applications.

Several of these devices capture biometric data, such as heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance, sympathetic nervous system activation, temperature, and other markers that indicate illness, stress, and many more in real-world settings. Certain studies employ the devices to track workday stress, sleep quality, or the reaction of the body to recreational activities.

When you put it all together you have a pretty comprehensive set of biological data that can give you a picture of how the individual is functioning prior to developing overt symptoms of disease.

Dr Frank J. Penedo, Professor of Psychology and Medicine, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami

The multisite study, financially supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, is seeking slight changes that occur in an individual’s physiological functioning that might go unnoticed but are suggestive of being infected with the virus, which includes even subtle variations in the temperature.

Source: https://med.miami.edu/

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