Research on COVID-detecting smartwatches still hasn’t panned out

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, smartwatch advocates and wearable tech companies thought the devices could help with illness detection. They wanted to flag people who might be sick with the disease using things like their heart rate and oxygen levels. The strategy could still be a reasonable way to track illness, but two years later, the promise hasn’t panned out — the research is still underdeveloped, according to a new review published last week in The Lancet.

The review looked at 12 research studies and 12 proposed study protocols published in 2020 and 2021 that tried to find patterns in the data collected by devices like the Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Whoop. Most of these studies focused on people who had already tested…

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Author: Nicole Wetsman