Can Fitness Trackers Help Detect Illness?

Illness Trackers

Wearable tech might soon be able to predict the onset of everything from the common cold to type 2 diabetes.

Your fitness tracker may soon be able to detect when you’re getting sick — before the onset of any symptoms.

Wearable tech has primarily recorded basic biometric information like number of steps taken, heart rate, and sleep. But a new Stanford study, published in PLOS Biology, reports that these common devices might soon be able to signal the onset of colds or complex health conditions, such as inflammation, type 2 diabetes, and even Lyme disease.

Researchers developed an algorithm for the devices to analyze the nearly 2 billion data measurements they collected, including heart rate, blood-oxygenation levels, and skin temperature, from 60 self-reported healthy people ranging in age 28 to 72. Measuring deviations from baselines, they noticed the changes often coincided with times participants became ill.

The results show promise for the devices to serve as personal-health dashboards and diagnostic aids.

This originally appeared as “Illness Trackers” in the June 2017 print issue of Experience Life.

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Heidi Wachter is an Experience Life staff writer.

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