A research team from King's College London have released a free app that uses data from wearables like Fitbits to help them understand how Covid-19 spreads, and how the virus affects people's physical and mental wellbeing.
The Mass Science app is available for iOS (opens in new tab) and Android (opens in new tab), and gathers data such as your heart rate, sleep patterns, and activity levels. Questionnaires within the app itself let you add extra details, such as your mood, mental health, and the results of any Covid-19 tests you've taken.
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This data will be used as part of the Covid Collab (opens in new tab) research study, which aims to investigate both the disease itself, and the effects of the measures being taken to control it.
The more people use the app, the better the researchers will be able to answer questions about the accuracy of Fitbits and other wearables as digital tests for the virus, what symptoms are early indicators of infection, how contagious it is, and the effect of social distancing on people's mood and stress levels.
Previous research, published in the The Lancet (opens in new tab), suggests that data from wearables (such as resting heart rate and changes to daily activity levels) can be a useful indicator of respiratory illness before symptoms actually emerge.
"With a lack of information on who is infected in the population, especially asymptomatic, we are investigating how wearable data can be used to detect COVID-19," said study lead Dr Amos Folarin. "Having a cheap, continuous digital test for infection could be a game-changer."
"When you indicate you are experiencing symptoms in the app, we'll be able to look at your data before, during and after this period and compare it to your healthy baseline data.
"Passive monitoring of symptoms coupled with movement data could be very useful as lockdown is cautiously lifted across the country. As shops, schools and other businesses reopen we expect an overall increased movement of population and potential for a second wave of Covid-19.”
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