Friday February 21, 2020

Here’s How Fitbit Smartwatch May Help You Predict Flu in Real-Time

The authors identify several limitations in their study

0
//
Fitbit
Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate. Pixabay

In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users.

Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate.

Influenza results in 650,000 deaths worldwide annually. And approximately 7 per cent of working adults and 20 per cent of children aged under five years get flu each year.

“Responding more quickly to influenza outbreaks can prevent further spread and infection, and we were curious to see if sensor data could improve real-time surveillance at the state level,” said study author Dr Jennifer Radin from Scripps Research Translational Institute.

The researchers reviewed de-identified data from 200,000 users who wore a Fitbit wearable device that tracks users’ activity, heart rate and sleep for at least 60 days during the study time.

fitbit
In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users. Pixabay

From the 200,000, 47,248 users from California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania wore a Fitbit device consistently during the study period, resulting in a total of 13,342,651 daily measurements evaluated.

The average user was 43 years old and 60 per cent were female.

De-identified data from the users retrospectively identified weeks with elevated resting heart rate and changes to routine sleep, said the research published in The Lancet Digital Health journal.

“In the future as these devices improve, and with access to 24/7 real-time data, it may be possible to identify rates of influenza on a daily instead of weekly basis,” said Radin.

This data was compared to weekly estimates for influenza-like illness rates reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time.

With greater volumes of data it may be possible to apply the method to more geographically refined areas, such as county or city-level.

The authors identify several limitations in their study.

Weekly resting heart rate averages may include days when an individual is both sick and not sick, and this may result in underestimation of illness by lowering the weekly averages.

Fitbit
This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time. Pixabay

Other factors may also increase resting heart rate, including stress or other infections.

ALSO READ: Most Advanced Radiation Therapy For Cancer Patients Arrives in India

Lastly, the authors noted that previous studies of sleep measuring devices have been found to have low accuracy, though they said that accuracy will continue to improve as technology evolves. (IANS)

Next Story

Google Having Access to Fitbit’s Data a Privacy Risk: EDPB

Google accessing Fitbit data major privacy risk: EU advisors

0
Google
EDPB was warned the European Commission of the potential privacy risks of Google having access to Fitbit's data. Pixabay

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) was warned the European Commission of the potential privacy risks of Google having access to Fitbit’s data.

This comes in the wake of the tech giant’s plan to scoop up the health and activity data of millions of Fitbit users, months after its parent company Alphabet acquired it.

Regulators are in the process of considering whether to allow the tech giant to gobble up all this data, TechCrunch reported on Thursday.

In a statement, the board writes: “There are concerns that the possible further combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data regarding people in Europe by a major tech company could entail a high level of risk to the fundamental rights to privacy and to the protection of personal data.”

Google
Regulators are in the process of considering whether to allow Google to gobble up all this data, TechCrunch reported on Thursday. Pixabay

It is pertinent to note that, as it stands today, Google is still waiting on regulatory approval for its Fitbit acquisition.

In the EU, how privacy is handled will have a huge impact on whether or not the deal goes through.

Also Read- Facebook and Twitter Remain Divided due to Bloomberg’s Video

The EDPB also leaves a reminder that Google and Fitbit are obligated to conduct a transparent assessment of “the data protection requirements and privacy implications” regarding this merger. The US Justice Department has also raised concerns, according to 9to5Google.

Aplphabet-Google acquired Fitbit as a whole for $2.1 billion late last year, a deal that includes the user data of Fitbit customers including activity, sleep, location, and other health data. (IANS)