How Wearable Tech Can Help In Combating Covid-19

By Potshangbam July

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The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the global economy, businesses, and normal life hard. The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing with each passing day worldwide. Even then, there are a few countries who have been hailed as a role model in handling the pandemic effectively. However, this intelligent virus is very tricky in nature and can spread again in a more unexpected manner.

There can be no room for complacency, and no country can afford to let down its guard until a vaccine is available. For instance, take the case of New Zealand. Just after the World Health Organization (WHO) praised the country for its exemplary handling of the crisis, the virus broke out again after 102 Covid-free days. In these challenging times, technologies have proved to be one of the most effective tools that are aiding significantly in the fight against the outbreak of the deadly virus.

In the healthcare space, there is a shift towards using new and evolving technologies to tackle the pandemic. Wearable tech has emerged as a reliable means of battling against the virus in the healthcare sector. Wearable devices are playing a critical role by easing the burden on hospitals and clinics during this unprecedented health crisis.

These act as a monitoring mechanism capable of detecting early Covid-19 symptoms before the onset of disease. The data collected from the smart wearable tells whether the user has Covid-19 symptoms or not. Researchers say wearables can provide data on heart rate, body temperature, heart, sleep patterns, and other indicators that can be used as diagnostic tools. As per reports, researchers are increasingly looking at tech wearables and other such devices as a possible early warning system for the deadly virus.

Here are some of the promising wearable devices that can help in tackling Covid-19:

Fitbit

The device can detect people who are infected with Covid-19 even before the symptoms appear. The technology is capable of monitoring active and resting heart rate, change in heart rate, respiratory rate, etc. This gives a chance to identify and warn the person before the spread of the virus unknowingly. Users can use ‘Today’ screen to access stats such as steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, and floors climbed. It also includes other features such as fitness tracking, up to five days of battery life, and 4.22cm (1.66-inch) LCD display.

GOQii

This smartwatch claims to assist in diagnosing and monitoring Covid-19 symptoms, early detection, and effective management of coronavirus. The device is equipped with an integrated pulse oximeter that measures the rate of oxygen in your blood. The device comes handy as it gives real-time updates of variation in blood oxygen levels. Besides, it can track blood pressure and body temperature, and wearers can immediately get a sense of change in their vitals. The device also features a touch OLED display with a battery life of up to seven days and a 360-degree motion sensor.

Oura ring

The smart ring can track symptoms of Covid-19 days before any actual signs show up. Most of the cases are asymptomatic but end up spreading rapidly in a stealthy way. Oura ring can be used as an effective tool to curb further spread of the deadly virus. The ring gives insights about body temperature, heart rate, respiration condition, sleeping pattern, etc. If any symptom of coronavirus is detected while tracking, it gives a chance of early treatment. It is packed with technologies such as infrared photoplethysmography sensors (PPG) for heart rate and respiration, negative temperature coefficient (NTC) sensor for body temperature, and 3D accelerometer for movement.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch comes with various sensors that allow users to monitor their health conditions and detect early signs of the virus. The users get an early warning so that they can take the necessary precautions. Apple Watch features an S5 processor, ECG sensors, always-on display, LTE and non-LTE options, etc. To combat the current Covid-19 crisis, Apple announced watchOS 7, a new software update to its Apple Watch operating system. watchOS 7 brings a number of notable health, fitness, and style features to the Apple Watch. The new handwashing detection feature automatically detects when a user is washing his/her hands. Using its motion sensors, microphone, and on-device machine learning, it will start the 20-second timer automatically. It will also remind users to wash their hands when they return home. watchOS 7 includes a new sleep tracking feature, providing sleep analysis in an easy-to-read chart. The Apple Watch uses the accelerometer to detect subtle movements associated with breathing, so it knows if the user is asleep or awake.

MediBioSense’s wearable sensors

UK-based startup MediBioSense develops medically approved wearable sensors that conduct real-time monitoring of a wide range of vital signs in conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease. Patients with such chronic diseases are at a higher risk of developing complications if infected with the virus. The technology effectively monitors heart rate, respiration rate, ECG, skin temperature, and oxygen levels of users. It allows the collected data to be viewed by healthcare workers remotely anywhere in the world. It provides remote monitoring solutions, which are advantageous in times such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jawbone UP

Jawbone UP is one of the most popular fitness bands with some unique features. The band is capable of studying the user’s sleep cycles, movements, workouts, resting and passive heart rates, etc. It is paired with an app that displays the user’s activities and details from the UP24 or UP band. It is compatible with most Android and iOS smartphones and can be easily synced to your phone via Bluetooth. It also has the option of sharing your accomplishments with friends by teaming up in the UP24 app.


This article was first published in September 2020 Electronics For You Print Issue.

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