Utrecht researchers testing bracelet for identifying Covid symptoms
Researchers at UMC Utrecht are launching a study into whether an existing bracelet that monitors temperature and breathing can identify coronavirus symptoms at an early stage. The European Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) provided 10 million euros in subsidy for this study, the university medical center announced.
Research leader Rick Grobbee, professor of epidemiology at UMC Utrecht, and his team will investigate whether a bracelet by Swiss company Ava AG used by women to measure when they have ovulated, can also be used to detect Covid-19.
The bracelet very accurately measures temperature, respiration, and skin moisture, among other things. And these measurements are also relative for Covid-19, according to Grobbee. A higher temperature could indicate a starting fever. And coughing and shortness of breath have a direct effect on breathing. Some combination of these could indicate a Covid-19 infection even before the patient realizes they feel sick. "And that is exactly what we are going to test," Grobbee explained.
As the Ava AG bracelet is an already certified device, the experiment can start quickly. Grobbee expects it will start in the autumn. "We want to ask people who are at a higher risk for Covid-19 to wear such a bracelet. All measurements are monitored centrally and optimized with machine learning techniques. If the measurement data indicated a Covid-19 contamination, the wearer will be notified to get tested quickly."
Afterwards, all participants will be tested for Covid-19 antibodies, to check whether the bracelet missed any infections. "If this turns out to work, I imagine that this wearable will mainly be used by people from the high-risk groups and healthcare providers. It is especially important for them to become aware of an infection quickly, so that they can be quarantined and not spread it further," Grobbee said.
The study will have have about 40 thousand participants, and will be done in collaboration with nine international partners. Though it will take place largely in the Netherlands.