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(Pocket-lint) - Fitbit has started a research project that wants to investigate whether wearable devices - like the company's fitness trackers - could play a role in the early detection of diseases like flu and coronavirus.

Working with partners from Stanford Medicine Healthcare Innovation Lab and Scripps Research Translational Institute, Fitbit wants to determine whether there are any indicators in wearer's data that could lead to the development of a detection algorithm.

For the user, a questionnaire will be available in the Fitbit app, under the Discover tab, allowing you to answer a couple of short questions relating to symptoms, demographics, medical history and whether you've had flu or coronavirus. This will let you play your part in helping the research move forward.

From there, data analysis will be needed to look for markers. Although Fitbit doesn't declare the exact methodology, a previous research study from Scripps, published in Lancet Digital Health, found that resting heart rate and other health stats could give an indicator of the presence of viral infections like influenza.

The aim here will be to develop an algorithm based around changes to a user's data either to track outbreaks or to provide an early warning system from wearable device data. 

This study is open to anyone aged 21 or over the US and Canada who has had COVID-19 or flu symptoms.

Fitbit is also participating in another study, called DETECT, run by Scripps which Fitbit owners can participate in, while Stanford has its own study that Fitbit and Apple Watch users can get involved with, again looking to focus on how wearable data can help in the potential detection of a disease like COVID-19. 

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Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 22 May 2020.