Smartwatches May Soon Detect Signs of Developing Illness Even Before You Know You’re Sick

A lot of illnesses may be easier to treat if they were discovered in the early stages – that’s especially true in serious conditions like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The sad reality is that many people only learn that they are sick when the disease is in its advanced stages.

But what if there’s a wearable device that can help detect signs of a developing illness even before you know you’re sick? Would you buy it?

Smartwatches May Soon Detect Illnesses

Researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, led by biomedical engineer Jessilyn Dunn, have found a way to harness smartwatches to help detect if a person is about to get sick.

The team asked 49 volunteers to wear sensor-laden smartwatches that recorded their data like heart rates, body movements, and skin temperatures. The volunteers were then exposed to cold or flu virus (not COVID) through nose drops.

The smartwatches were able to detect signs of a developing illness in at least one day before the symptoms started to emerge.

The volunteers had to wear the smartwatches and were monitored several days before they were exposed to the virus. It allowed the researchers to create baseline data. All the data were sent to a computer that analyzed the algorithms.

According to Dunn, their findings can pave the way to early warnings so that patients can treat the disease early. It can also help a person take the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the germs to others.

But the researchers pointed out that this technology is not yet ready for use in the ‘real world.’ To date, they have only done research on cold or flu.

This is exciting but also very preliminary. Much more work is needed before this approach can be rolled out on a larger scale,” said virologist Stacey Schultz-Cherry who works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Ethics of Clinical Trials

All clinical trials must be conducted in compliance with ethical standards. They should be done with clear scientific proof or background and researchers should carefully consider the benefits over the risks.

For example, this clinical trial might face some controversy because the volunteers directly received the virus. This can be dangerous to the test subjects and the people around them.

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