Fitbit is studying how to detect coronavirus before symptoms show up—and you can help

You can find the new study in the Fitbit app.

fitbit charge 4 screen
Michael Simon/IDG

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The Charge 4 and Versa 2 already do a lot to keep you healthy, but as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps around the world, Fitbit wants them to do even more using the data your devices are already collecting.

Starting this week, users will find a new COVID-19 Study in the Fitbit app, which will help Fitbit determine if it can build an algorithm to detect COVID-19 before symptoms start. Fitbit is encouraging people who “currently have, or have had, symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or the flu” to participate, but the study is open to everyone.

fitbit covid study Fitibit

The Fitbit COVID-19 Study will help the company develop an algorithm that could alert users that they have COVID-19 before symptoms show.

The study, which can be found in the Assessments & Reports section of the Discover tab, consists of a brief series of questions pertaining to your experiences with COVID-19, including symptoms and testing, along with basic medical information. Fitbit says the questions and the data you consent to share will help “find a way to quickly defeat COVD-19 with data from your Fitbit device.”

The survey doesn’t inquire about which Fitbit device you own, but presumably, devices with heart-rate and relative Sp02 sensors will be the most useful. Recent studies have already drawn comparisons between elevated resting heart rate and influenza-like illness rates, and Fitbit’s Sleep Score, which measures blood-oxygen levels and can be a possible indicator of hypoxia, a condition caused by the coronavirus that lowers the oxygen levels in your blood due to damage to the walls of the air sacs in their lungs.

By collecting data from people who opt into the study, Fitbit could be better able to track heart-rate BPM and blood-oxygen levels to detect patterns leading up to the development of symptoms. For example, if resting heart rate declines night-over-night leading up to a positive test, your Fitbit app could alert you to get tested sooner or self-quarantine as a precaution.

The COVID-19 study is open to all Fitbit users over the age of 21 due to the consent required. You can withdraw your contribution to the study at any time after participating.

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