Purdue University study detects earliest signs of COVID-19 from smartwatch data

With the ongoing pandemic, Purdue researchers are helping to develop software for early detection of viral infections, like COVID-19. The goal is to help stop the spread of the infection by early detection and could prevent the infected from potential exposure to others.

Certain changes in a person’s heart and breathing rates could lead up to symptoms of COVID-19, some studies suggest.

(Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

(Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

(Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

Purdue University researchers are helping to develop physIQ software that could indicate that a person should get tested for COVID-19 by detecting those specific changes in heart and breathing rates while the person wears a smartwatch.

PhysIQ transforms continuous data into insight for companies like health care and pharmaceutical systems.

The study of 100 participants for 90 days would help determine if continuously collected biometric smartwatch data could be used to reliably and accurately detect these signs early, which could indicate that a potentially asymptomatic user should get tested for COVID-19.

“Taking biometric data, running advanced analytics on that data to pull out important information,” said Craig Goergen, Purdue’s Leslie A Geddes Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering. “Such as, are you in the early stages of a viral infection and what does that mean for that person in the future?”

Although smartwatch-like devices are not currently substitutes for gold-standard diagnostic tests used in clinics and hospitals, some wearable devices are starting to serve as tools for helping a clinician make a diagnosis.

“The thought isn’t that this would diagnose necessarily diagnose COVID-19, but that it could be an early warning sign and get people tested earlier or preventing further spread of the disease,” Goergen said.

Participants will be sent a smartwatch, a smart phone and chest-based biosensors to use for continuous monitoring, while the lab analyzes that data, noted on a cloud based platform.

The end goal is to stop the spread of COVID-19 – allowing communities to be able to open up.

“The thought is that this COVID-19 is so infectious and so contagious that – the earlier that we can diagnose and identify these people that are positive, the better for everybody,” says Goergen.

The researchers plan to eventually expand the story to include more participants.

Protect Purdue Bindley Lab

(Purdue University / Mark Simons)

The work is funded by a faculty innovations grant from Protect Purdue, the university’s initiative to keep the campus and surrounding community safe from COVID-19.

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