Wearable sensor could sign you are growing COVID-19—even when your signs are refined

Although the Oura ring is not an FDA registered health device, it monitors a number of signals including continuous temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and activity. Initial analyzes suggest that temperature destabilization occurs a few days before coronavirus symptoms appear. The Oura ring recognizes this pattern. Photo credit: Oura Ring

A smart ring that generates continuous temperature data can anticipate COVID-19 even when there is no suspicion of infection. Possibly a better disease indicator than a thermometer, the device could result in earlier isolation and testing, and contain the spread of infectious diseases, according to a preliminary study by UC San Francisco and UC San Diego.

An analysis of data from 50 people previously infected with COVID-19, published online in Scientific Reports on December 14, 2020, found that data from the commercially available Smart Ring found higher temperatures in people with symptoms of exactly identified COVID-19.

Although it is not known how effectively the Smart Ring can detect asymptomatic COVID-19, which affects between 10 and 70 percent of those infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the authors reported that 38 of the 50 participants had a fever occurrence was identified when symptoms went unreported or even went unnoticed.

Notably, the researchers analyzed weeks of temperature data to determine typical ranges for each of the 50 participants. “Many factors affect body temperature,” said senior researcher and senior author Ashley Mason, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Faculty at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. “The single-point temperature reading is not very meaningful. People have a fever, and a temperature that is significantly elevated for one person may not be a large deviation for another. Continuous temperature information can better identify a fever.”

According to co-author Dr. med. Frederick Hecht, Professor of Medicine and Research Director at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, this work is “important in demonstrating the potential of wearable devices for the early detection of COVID-19 and others.” Infectious Diseases. “

A smart ring indicates that a fever can be detected before you feel it
Researchers believe that the best algorithms for predicting the onset of COVID-19 compare many variables, rather than relying on just one signal. By examining how temperature changes over time, while comparing it to heart rate, heart rate variability, and breathing rate, the researchers found that while most febrile episodes correspond to changes in other variables, it is not a clean 1: 1 agreement: sometimes the heart rate is higher, but the temperature is not and vice versa. Other variables provide a clearer picture so that detection can be precise across disease manifestations. Photo credit: University of California San Diego

Asymptomatic illness or illness with unreported / unnoticed symptoms?

While the number of study participants was too small to extrapolate for the entire population, the authors were encouraged that the Smart Ring diagnosed disease when symptoms were subtle or unnoticed. “This begs the question of how many asymptomatic cases are truly asymptomatic, and how many may go unnoticed or go unreported,” said first author Benjamin Smarr, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the Halicio? Lu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. “By using wearable technology, we can query the body directly.”

To carry out the study, the researchers used the Oura Ring, a wearable sensor from the Finnish startup Oura that is linked to a mobile app. The ring continuously measures sleep and wakefulness, heart and respiratory rate and temperature. The researchers made the rings available to nearly 3,400 healthcare workers in the United States and worked with Oura to invite existing users to participate in the study through the Oura app. As a result, more than 65,000 participants worldwide took part in a now completed prospective observational study that the UC researchers are preparing for publication.

The participants in the preliminary study reported that they were previously infected with COVID-19. A continuous record of their biomonitoring data was available for analysis from the weeks prior to their infection through the end of the study to the end of the study.

Non-contact thermometers that sense infrared radiation from the forehead are used to quickly check for fevers in airports and offices and are believed to detect some COVID-19 cases. However, many studies suggest that their value is limited. The ring constantly records the temperature, so any measurement is contextualized by that individual’s history, making relative heights much easier to see. “Context plays a role in temperature evaluation,” emphasized Smarr.

Heart rate and breathing rate provide further information

Other disease-related changes that the rings detect were increased heart rate, decreased heart rate variability, and increased breathing rate. However, these changes were not as strongly correlated, the authors found.

The researchers are using data from the larger prospective study to develop an algorithm from data collected from wearable devices to determine when the user becomes sick. The Mason team can then trigger a request for the user to complete a COVID-19 self-collection test kit. The researchers will evaluate the algorithm in a new study with 4,000 additional participants.

“The hope is that people infected with COVID can prepare and isolate sooner, call their doctor earlier, notify anyone they have had contact with, and not be able to spread the virus,” Mason said.

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More information:
Feasibility of Continuous Fever Monitoring Using Portable Devices, Scientific Reports (2020). Provided by the University of California, San Francisco

Quote: A wearable sensor can signal that you are developing COVID-19 – even if your symptoms are subtle (2020, Dec 14th). Retrieved December 14, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12-wearable-sensor-youre- covid-19even-symptome.html

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