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Researchers to study if startup’s wrist-worn wearable can detect early COVID-19 respiratory issues

It’s highly unlikely that the current coronavirus crisis will neatly and fully “solved” by any one endeavor or solution, which makes news studies like one involving startup WHOOP’s wrist-worn fitness and health tracking wearable all the more important. The study, conducted by the Central Queensland University Australia (CQUniversity), in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, will employ data collected WHOOP’s hardware with hundreds of volunteers who have self-identified as having contracted COVID-19 to study changes in their respiratory behavior over time.

The data to be used for this study has been collected from WHOOP’s 3.0 hardware, which has also recently been validated by a University of Arizona external study conducted specifically to determine the accuracy of its measurement of respiratory rates during sleep, which the device uses to provide quality of sleep scores to its users. That study showed it to be among the most accurate measurement tools for respiratory rate short of invasive procedures, which is what has led researchers behind this new study to hypothesize that it could be valuable as a sort of early-warning system for detecting signs of abnormal respiratory behavior in COVID-19 patients before those symptoms are detectable by other means.

The WHOOP team says that the respiratory rate its hardware reports very rarely deviates from an established individual baseline, and that when it does so, it’s usually due to either one of two causes: environmental factors, like unusually high temperatures or significant differences in oxygen concentration, or something happening within the body, like a lower-respiratory tract infection.

COVID-19 is specifically a lower-respiratory tract infection, unlike the flue or the cold, which are upper-respiratory issues. That means there’s a strong correlation between rate changes due to lower-respiratory tract issues not accounted by environmental problems (which are relatively easy to cancel out) and instances of COVID-19. And since the WHOOP wearable is designed to look for deviations as a sign of distress, among the other sings it monitors, it could notice changes to respiratory rates relative to baselines before an individual becomes aware of any significant shortness of breath themselves.

This is a study, so at this point that’s just a hypothesis, and will need to be backed up by data. The team behind it says it should take around six weeks, and there are an “initial several hundred self-reported COVID-19 cases” already present in the app from which it will begin, with a target of enrolling at least 500 individuals with positive COVID-19 test results. There are also other investigations underway to see if wearables that monitor a user’s health and fitness can provide early warning systems for potential COVID-19 cases, including a study being conducted by UCSF using the Oura Ring.

Unlike with previous pandemics, the current coronavirus crisis comes at a time when we’re increasingly used to taking data-driven approaches to solving challenges, and when we also have a lot of self-quantifying health devices in circulation. Those could help us get a better grip on assessing the spread, as well as trends related to how it circulates and ebbs/grows within a population.

Fitbit unveils the Charge 4, its first fitness tracker with built-in GPS

Fitbit unveils the Charge 4, its first fitness tracker with built-in GPS

If you’re in the market for a new fitness tracker, especially since gyms have shutdown due to the coronavirus, Fitbit’s new Charge 4 might be of interest. 

Its design isn’t revolutionary compared to its predecessor, the Charge 3. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you placed both of them right next to each other. It has a touchscreen display, inductive button for navigation (rather than a traditional button, this one dips into the side of the tracker and vibrates when triggered), and a sleek swim-proof case.

But the major improvements are under the hood. 

For starters, Fitbit has finally added built-in GPS to its fitness trackers — a feature that was previously reserved for its pricier, more feature-packed smartwatches. Another new addition is its Spotify integration, which lets you control music right from the device.  Read more…

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Peloton Bike review: The perfect, if expensive, escape for easing coronavirus anxiety

Peloton Bike review: The perfect, if expensive, escape for easing coronavirus anxiety

Peloton Bike
$2,245.00
The Good

Fairly compact • Effective workouts • Library comes with thousands of classes to choose from

The Bad

Expensive • Monthly subscription fee

The Bottom Line

The Peloton Bike is expensive, but it comes with thousands of engaging and effective workouts that are all packed into a beautiful piece of equipment.

⚡ Mashable Score
4.75
😎 Cool Factor
5.0
📘Learning Curve
4.0
💪Performance
5.0
💵Bang for the Buck
5.0

Work(out) From Home is a weekly column where we review smart fitness machines in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Thanks to technology, there are still plenty of ways to exercise if your gym is closed.  Read more…

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