Fitbit launches COVID-19 study with a focus on its wearables

Wearables company Fitbit has announced a new COVID-19 study it has launched to determine whether it can use its wearables and software to detect the infectious disease in users. The study is seeking participants in the US and Canada who will be given a series of questions within the Fitbit mobile app. The end game may be Fitbit's development of an algorithm to detect COVID-19 symptoms.

The study can be found in the Fitbit app's Discover tab in the Assessments & Reports section. You'll need to be located in the US or Canada and at least 21 years old to participate in the study. As well, in order to participate in the study you'll need to either currently have COVID-19, have previously had it, or have 'symptoms consistent with the flu.'

The responses will be included in Fitbit's research into whether it is possible to develop this COVID-19 detection algorithm, something that may never come to fruition. Fitbit says that it will only take a few minutes for the users to complete the assessment; it involves questions about symptoms and the user's medical history, among other things.

As a key part of this research, Fitbit says that it will pair the responses with the user's existing Fitbit data, painting a picture of the early signs of contracting the flu or novel coronavirus. Users are given the option of withdrawing their participation in the study at any time they want.

Using smartwatches to detect various conditions isn't a new idea. A number of existing studies are looking into whether these wearables can be used to detect things like the early symptoms of various diseases. Devices like the Apple Watch can already detect irregular heart rhythms and Fitbit recently added blood oxygen detection for some of its wearables.