Researchers from Apple, along with the Seattle Flu Study and the University of Washington, are currently recruiting participants for a study to understand how wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch, can help predict a person’s likelihood of contracting certain illnesses such as COVID-19.
The study plans to utilize Apple’s heart sensor, along with health data submitted by the participants, to try and uncover similarities in people who contract COVID-19, or other flu-like illnesses and viral infections.
Researchers say they are looking specifically for participants above the age of 22, who ‘may have higher than normal risk of respiratory illness because of frequent exposure to other people through work or other activities, health conditions, or other factors.’
Before the participants begin, receive free study-provided testing for COVID-19, and for any acute respiratory illness that may occur throughout their participation. If a participant gets sick at any time during the study, they will be provided with a free, at-home nasal swab to test for COVID-19, and will be asked to fill out additional information regarding their health through their Apple Watch.
Throughout the six-month study, participants will be given a free Apple Watch, which they will be instructed to wear both day and night. During the study, the watch will track the user’s heart rate, blood oxygen levels, physical activity, and sleep. At the end of every week, the participants will be asked to fill out a short survey on the Apple Research app, which will ask questions about their lifestyle and any respiratory symptoms they may be experiencing.
The goal of the study will be to see if the information collected by the Apple Watch and iPhone can help detect early signs of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19.
“The hope is that physiological signals from the Apple Watch will make it possible to identify people who are falling ill, and get them tested quickly so they can self-isolate and break the chain of transmission of the virus in the community,” said Dr. Jay Shendure, professor of genome sciences, UW School of Medicine, and director of the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine in a statement following the announcement of the study.
Alongside the health monitoring, researchers will also be testing certain behavioral notifications such as hand washing reminders. These will be sent to a user’s Apple Watch to see if they can help decrease their likelihood of contracting viral infections.
The study will take place in the greater Seattle area and last for approximately six months. Individuals within that area are encouraged to find out if they are eligible for participation by filling out a short survey online. To qualify, you must live in the greater Seattle area, be of age 22 or older, have an Apple iPhone 6s or above, and be able to speak and read English.
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