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For the Pandemic and Beyond, Wearable Technology Points the Way

Like all the best ideas, this one started with a question – a question about how to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus; refined over a series of meetings between U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command scientists and researchers in the early days of the pandemic. For Cmdr. Christopher Steele, director at USAMRDC’s Military Operational Medicine Research Program, it was a question that would ultimately guide what’s become a nearly year-long funding effort.

“For active duty personnel and civilians, we wanted to know – what does ‘normal’ look like from a health perspective?” says Steele, repeating that initial query once again during a conversation in early 2021. “And how do changes from normal translate to early detection of disease?”

The answer to that question may soon be found on your finger, on your wrist, or even around your neck. Just as a pair of vaccines for COVID-19 have become available to the American public, USAMRDC is pushing the limits of its virus research even further. The goal: to develop wearable technology to detect the virus before a person might even begin to notice symptoms – however slight or subtle – in the first place.

“Having some wearable measurements on how you’re doing leading to [infection] is extremely helpful,” says Steele, “because we can understand additional concerns about your health and if they need to be taken more seriously for quarantine procedures or for advanced care.”

USAMRDC’s quest to find technology capable of detecting pre-symptomatic exposure to the virus began in March 2020 – just weeks into the pandemic – as part of a joint funding opportunity between both MOMRP and USAMRDC’s Military Infectious Diseases Research Program. As part of a planned program announcement, a total of seven wearable technology projects were selected for funding through the Command via its partnership with the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium; the latter entity using a unique contracting tool called an “other transaction agreement” (or, OTA) to facilitate the delivery of advanced technology prototypes for a wide array of military-relevant injury conditions. Of those seven investments, one of the more promising efforts is a proprietary algorithm being developed jointly by Dr. Ashley Mason, an assistant professor with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Benjamin Smarr, an assistant professor with the Department of Bioengineering and Data Science at the University of California, San Diego.

In a recent study, Mason’s team showed that wearing a so-called “smart-ring” – a wearable device that generates continuous temperature data – may foreshadow the presence of COVID-19, even in cases when infection is not suspected. By analyzing data from 50 people previously infected with COVID-19 who agreed to wear the ring (which, in turn, came equipped with the aforementioned algorithm) Mason and Smarr found the ring accurately identified higher temperatures in people with symptoms of COVID-19. Ultimately, the algorithm may help lead to earlier isolation and testing – thereby potentially curbing the spread of infectious diseases.

“Continuous temperature assessment allows us to look at [human patterns of change] by allowing us to analyze changes in temperature as processes,” says Mason, noting the difference between continuous and single-point temperature monitoring. “If we think about temperature as a process – imagine a wave – then we can start to ask questions that go beyond, ‘are you high or low in temperature,’ [and] we can examine the shape of the waves both within one person over time and we can compare the shapes of peoples’ waves to each other.”

Mason’s work was initially sponsored by Finnish company Oura Health (who agreed to provide the “smart rings” used in the study), which gave her team a substantial amount of early data on virus exposures compared to other external groups. In July 2020, MTEC began funding Mason’s multi-pronged TemPredict study, providing key infrastructure resources. Then, last month, Mason’s team published the study’s aforementioned initial findings in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports.

“Having a device that’s doing surveillance on you at the time and to say, ‘hey there’s something different about you’ – those are potentially powerful opportunities to intervene before a situation becomes a lot more complicated to treat,” says Steele.

While it is not known how effectively the algorithm-enabled smart ring can detect asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, Mason’s team reported that in 38 of the 50 participants (or, 76 percent), fever was identified when symptoms were unreported or even unnoticed. According to Mason, the second leg of her TemPredict Study, which was launched in early December and has already enrolled tens of thousands of participants across the globe, will continuously apply the algorithm to the participants’ smart ring data, then alert participants when the algorithm suggests COVID-19 testing is warranted.

“[The algorithm] does seem to be working well,” says Dr. Jenifer Ojeda, Health Science Program Manager at USAMRDC’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, and additionally the science officer providing DOD oversight on Mason’s award. “It is detecting early – pre-symptomatic, if you will – cases, and with some degree of fidelity.”

Still, Mason’s algorithm – which is intended to be agnostic and not exclusive to any one particular device – is just one of many entrants in this particular race. Other performers receiving funding – including the makers of the Fitbit family of trackers and smartwatches – are using their own, internally-developed platforms, while others are utilizing off-the-shelf platforms to meet their end goals.

While Steele admits USAMRDC is likely months away from receiving an actual, refined product to review, it is possible such a product could be developed and then deployed during the current COVID-19 pandemic. That would depend, of course, on a chosen performer delivering the kind of clear and consistent data demanded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for such devices. Regardless, this kind of technology clearly has a role in any kind of future, similar public health emergencies, and would make a substantial impact on the ability to detect illness on the future battlefield as well. The latter, while an ancillary perk for now, may indeed provide a showcase for any wearable technology’s likely ultimate benefit: to provide a near-continuous level of support and resilience to any U.S. Soldier across the globe.

Says Steele, “Wearables may be the premise that allows for truly integrated telemedicine content because now you have the ability to measure a person from a distance, or outside the clinic, or anywhere.”

By Ramin Khalili

15 Responses to “For the Pandemic and Beyond, Wearable Technology Points the Way”

  1. Bill says:

    If only there was a badge we could make people wear…

  2. Mike says:

    “The goal: to develop wearable technology to detect the virus before a person might even begin to notice symptoms – however slight or subtle – in the first place.”

    The pseudoreality created by these people is insane. It is like a doomsday cult. Every active duty member I know laughs about this corona virus hoax, its the annual respiratory infection that goes around every year and takes its toll on the population. If no one would test for it our lives would go on as usual.

    China, a country of 1.8 billion people and the bigger part of Asia and Africa, have absolutely no problem with the corona virus. Our so called scientists are baffled by how Africa manages the pandemic, how China can switch it on and off at will, how Japan has cramped trains every morning but literally no infections. Is it a piece of cloth? Should we douple our protection with another layer of fabric, like the VP? But why does it still smell when someone farts through his underwear and pants?

    Big think for our scientists.

    Or maybe its because they dont fucking test the entire population with a useless PCR-Test. The same PCR-Test that created the Ebola “epidemic” that almost no one died from. Fuck all that shit.

    • Sunny says:

      “The pseudoreality created by these people is insane. It is like a doomsday cult. Every active duty member I know laughs about this corona virus hoax, its the annual respiratory infection that goes around every year and takes its toll on the population. If no one would test for it our lives would go on as usual. ” Sure, the DoD is known to not act conservative and with enaugh thresholds – they exaggerate all the time!
      “Hoax”. Well. You proof yourself to be not worth it, but anyway: Are you too blind to see that there definitly WILL be some more deadly flu in the future? We should be happy that Corona wasnt serious – but than again, you for sure dont even remember SARS, the swine flu or Bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Because if you would know details of these “epedemics” than you would know that we have been more than lucky back than, and that there was a need since decades for better surveliance of diseases.
      But you are right: Your Goverment fucked it up. Not your scientests, CDC did a good job! Per citizen you have the highest death qoute – worse than Brazil, China or Italy! Thats hilarious.

      • Ed says:

        Go back to line 10 and re-read what you typed. This covid-19 reaction is complete BS! You mention more serious viruses that have affected the world and NO ONE shut down their economies, especially the USA! If covid, err I mean the Wuhan kung flu is so fucking deadly, where are the deaths in 2020 from heart disease, cancer, accidents and general old age? Riddle me that you pompous idiot! The US reaction to this, the individual states fuct this up from the day one and used it as a political tool to self destruct our own economy, plain and simple! Do some actual research for once instead of watching/listening to the BBC or CNN. Oh, btw our CDC fuct this up as well by politicizing this fake cold BS.

        • cat_blaster says:

          Ed, I’m curious how many people you know taht work in healthcare? I have several friends all over this great nation working in healthcare. I can assure you this is not the regular flu or cold. You are greatly mistaken.
          My friend in SLC has been a ICU nurse for over 10 years. All he does all day for the last 7 months is pharmaceutically paralyze people because they either cannot breath or cannot stop coughing. Then after about 3 weeks he sets up an ipad for the family to say goodbye to the intubated unconscious body and then he shuts off the ventilator. For 8 months. This has never been day to day until 2020. Please update your info accordingly.

          • Ed says:

            Yes I do know people in health care and several RN’s in FL and MS. The death rate numbers are falsely inflated and anybody that dies in care is counted as a covid death. 99.9% of the people “dining” of covid have one or more comorbidity. The hospitals are calling every death a covid death instead of a patient dying with covid vice because of it. The term case has also been resigned to mean anyone who tests positive even asymptomatic is a “case” whereas pre-covid a case only meant a person who is positive and symptomatic. This virus has only been deadly to people 65 or older with ages 80+ making up over 90% of the deaths. People under 65 have died because of their pre-existing conditions and or comorbidity. Have school age children wear masks all day long, in class and then remove them to eat makes no fucking sense at all! For that matter, same with adults going to restaurants and magically it won’t get them while they are sitting eating but have to wear it to walk in. Comon MAN! You know that thing?

            Restricting family from seeing their loved ones before they die is criminal. Only those idiots who run those states are to blame for their horrible lockdowns and leach of decision making. Healthy people don’t “Quarantine”, that is another word that has been co-opted by the MSM and stupid people who are brainwashed. Old people and those who have comorbidity should of been isolated and let the rest of us go about our business. That is logic and common sense!

            Oh, BTW….why did we not do the same for SARS, H1N1, etc..? Why every flu season pre-covid did we not wear masks and all that other Un-Constitutional shit? Bet ya can’t answer that cat-pedophile! Where is sonny to weigh in on this? BET!

            • cat_blaster says:

              Ed not sure why you are calling me a pedo. Sars1 didnt hit the US. H1N1 killed 16k people and was the flu, real nasty one. I had it. Your info is straight conspiracy theory stuff. Been debunked over and over. Utah didn’t have a lockdown, neither did ND or SD both red states with red gov, massive death and infection rates. If you knew anything you would understand Rnaught and the rate for covid is 4 times the flu. Yes the restrictions are massively inconsistent. Children are less susceptible to contracting the virus and carry significantly lower viral load making it harder to spread. Also science and proven. BTW if you test positive you are a case, why is that a debate? I bet you have at least one comorbidity, clearly you are in need of mental health so that’s one in my book. Take the meds they give you.

              • Ed says:

                Hey cat-turd, sight your sources that whatever I typed is “straight conspiracy theory”. You can’t. Why did you gloss over and ignore the facts that we never reacted this way to any other virus in history even though it has a 99.9% survival rate? Answer that meow-skers!

                Why do ignore that that the “cure” is worse than the virus? Thousands of more deaths from undiagnosed disease, OD’s, suicides and more opioid use? Where are the numbers of people dying from heart disease, cancer and other natural causes these last 11 months? Can’t answer that can you?

                The medical sedition of “case” has always meant a symptomatic patient, testing positive for said virus. Now it means anybody testing positive even when they are asymptomatic! Do some fact checking on your own.

                Why didn’t we just isolate the elderly and those with comorbidity? Why did YouTube block all Med professionals that supported using hydrocloroquine and zithromiasin as prophylactics?

                Keep you head in the sand you fucking cuckcold! Oh, btw…how do you blow your BF while your wearing your mask? Asking for a friend! Stay ignorant cat-turd, enough will be around to clean up your mess!

                OUT

                • cat_blaster says:

                  I take it your not much of a history buff. I guess you don’t know the story of Typhoid Mary. The data from other deaths non covid is available on the CDC website. My neighbors father just died of a heart attack. No covid. The current death rate in America is 2.8% across the board for covid, its reported accurately. Your data is wrong and you’re completely insane. Hydroxychloroquine was studied intensely by medical professionals. Try reading Nature Science they post peer reviewed data, its very complicated it has lots of words you will not understand by the charts and graphs are helpful to the ignorant.
                  You watch youtube vids for your info, that’s the crazy ass conspiracy shit. If you did even a mid modicum of googling you would find out the real details behind those so called ‘medical professionals’. When ICUs are overrun and they call in reefer trucks for corpses there’s a problem. You have your head so far up Qanons asshole the buffalo princess is screaming.

                  • Ed says:

                    Hey cat-turd, sight your sources that whatever I typed is “straight conspiracy theory”. You can’t. Why did you gloss over and ignore the facts that we never reacted this way to any other virus in history even though it has a 99.9% survival rate? Answer that meow-skers!

                    Why do ignore that that the “cure” is worse than the virus? Thousands of more deaths from undiagnosed disease, OD’s, suicides and more opioid use? Where are the numbers of people dying from heart disease, cancer and other natural causes these last 11 months? Can’t answer that can you?

                    The medical sedition of “case” has always meant a symptomatic patient, testing positive for said virus. Now it means anybody testing positive even when they are asymptomatic! Do some fact checking on your own.

                    Why didn’t we just isolate the elderly and those with comorbidity? Why did YouTube block all Med professionals that supported using hydrocloroquine and zithromiasin as prophylactics?

                    Keep you head in the sand you fucking cuckcold! Oh, btw…how do you blow your BF while your wearing your mask? Asking for a friend! Stay ignorant cat-turd, enough will be around to clean up your mess!

                    OUT

                  • Ed says:

                    Lol! Waaaaaaaa! Lol!

                    Dude, your veil of sanity really has slipped!

                    So, once again, back up your claims with hard data and or links to factual data.

                    Since you can’t intelligently reply to the queries I put forth to you, back this up.

                    If mask wearing is estimated to be at 80%+ and closer to 90% in commie states with rabid lockdown dictates, than why are covid “ cases” climbing faster there then in free states? Probably can’t intelligently answer that one either since you failed to reply to my other queries.

                    Just go back to your basement and cry into your mask. Your last reply sounded like a cry from a deranged mommas boy who has an Oedipus Rex complex, but found her all dried up and mummified after you woke from a wet dream.

                    Please don’t go away mad, just go away! Lol

                    Oh, P.S. your reading comprehension is borderline retarded. I typed that medical professionals on YouTube we’re removed by said commie owners because they with their wealth of knowledge advocated for Hydroxyclorocline and Zithromiasin as prophylaxic’s. I didn’t state I got my info from YouTube you faggot cuckhold. Learn how to fucking read you MEPS reject! Lol

                    Well….BYE

                    • cat_blaster says:

                      Pot Kettle black. You are clinically insane. I’m not the one making the ridiculous unsubstantiated claims. You are saying nonsense. The burden of proof is on you to back up your claims with actual science. I told you to go read Nature science and nature medicine. Almost all of your claims are unsubstantiated. I cant believe SSD lets you write this violent drivel. Why are you such an asshole? Fighting for freedom and oil got you down cause you wasted your life?

  3. Ed says:

    Yeah, I think this is exactly what Glen Beck meant when he referred to recent tech as the digital ghetto! Pretty sure it didn’t work out so well for lots of Europeans in Germany and Poland circa 1936-45. Way to go Steele, you dipshit!

  4. Scott says:

    West Point issued a special watch for contact tracing and social distancing enforcement. 25% compliance with the order to wear it.

  5. Daggertx says:

    yeah been in healthcare since SARS. I live near a major metro area and we’ve had more suicides than “covid” deaths. Cases are per the county “presumptive.”

    I’ve seen providers covid test people 5-7 times the same stay and scratch their heads when the tests come back negative. Even though person has multiple comorbidities and an xray showing pneumonia.

    Had 50-the 75% of staff miss their shift after getting 2nd pfizer shot. These are just facts. They are irrelevant to people with strongly held beliefs.

    But hey let use science to control people. Free will is obsolete.