Monitoring COVID-19 from hospital to home: First wearable device continuously tracks key symptoms
From vitals-tracking rings to Bluetooth-enabled tokens, here are a few wearable devices that can detect COVID-19 early
These wearable devices use an electronic sensor to collect health information such as one’s vitals lie heart rate, pulse rate, sleeping pattern of the wearer. Due to the huge population in some areas and the highly infectious nature of the disease, it is starting to become impossible to trace the source of COVID-19 in some cases. In order to contain the spread of the infection, governments around the world have tried various measures such as maintaining a safe distance of two metres in public and the mandatory wearing of masks. However, tracing and tracking of people with COVID-19 infection is still a challenge.
This is where technology comes in — some wearable devices can help in early detection of the disease and also help in tracing the people with coronavirus infection. These wearable devices use an electronic sensor to collect health information such as one’s vitals (heart rate, pulse rate, sleeping pattern) of the wearer. This helps in detecting any early signs of COVID-19 infection, even before the person shows any symptoms.
Devices for early detection of COVID-19
1. Watches or bands: Commercially available smartwatches and smart bands are already being used by many people. These watches help in detecting the daily vitals of the body. Some of the latest models also have SPO2 monitor in them, which measures the oxygen levels in the blood.
2. Rings: Smart rings are being used by the players of the National Basketball Association (US) to detect the infection in early stages. A study conducted by the West Virginia Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute concluded that the Oura Ring has the ability to predict COVID-19 infection up to three days in advance with 90 percent accuracy. Oura ring tracks the sleeping ability and also detects heart rate and body temperature.
3. Bracelets: Smart bracelets, such as ‘Ava’, supplied by a Swiss fertility start-up, are being examined in Germany for early detection of COVID-19 infection. These bracelets are worn at night where they record the movements, body temperature, blood flow, breath, and pulse rate of the wearer. The researchers believe that this biometric data could help in detecting the symptoms such as increased temperature and shortness of breath even before patients notice these themselves.
Some other bracelets have sensors in them which vibrate immediately when a person breaches the 3-metre distance and comes close to the wearer, thus helping maintain social distance in public.
4. Sensors: Researchers at Northwestern University and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago have developed a wearable device in the form of a sensor which is exactly the size of a postage stamp, is wireless and is placed at the base of the throat. This device helps in monitoring the coughing intensity and patterns, movements of the chest wall, irregular breathing, respiratory sounds, heart rate and body temperature.
Devices for coronavirus tracing
Some of the devices that are being used to detect the infection are:
1. Bluetooth-enabled contact tracing devices: The government of Singapore is using TraceTogether tokens to trace the contacts of a COVID-19 patient. This is given to the vulnerable elderly people who do not own a smartphone and have little or no family support. These tokens have unique QR codes which help in tracking the people and do not need charging as they have a battery life of up to nine months.
2. btwTAG: Manufactured in Illinois, btwTAG is a workplace contact tracer and social distancing alert system. The TAG is a small ID badge which alerts the holder when social distancing protocols are being breached. The TAG records all contacts made with other TAGs and gives detailed information about the duration and location of the contact.