We use cookies to give you the best personal experience on our website. If you continue to use our site without changing your cookie settings, you agree we may place these cookies on your device. You can change your cookie settings at any time but if you do , you may lose some functionality on our website . More information can be found in our privacy policy.
Please provide more information.
Stylus no longer supports Internet Explorer 7, 8 or 9. Please upgrade to IE 11, Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge. This will ensure you have the best possible experience on the site.
Brief Published: 25 Jan 2017

Sickness-Predicting Wearables

Soon your smartwatch will predict if you're falling ill

A team of researchers from Stanford University in the US has developed a wearable device that can detect whether a user is going to fall ill by monitoring their vital signs.

The device, which was tested on more than 40 volunteers over two years, uses biosensors to continually monitor pulse and skin temperature. Test results published in January 2017 reveal that the wearable would record unusually high heart rates and higher skin temperatures up to three days before volunteers showed symptoms of a cold or other infection.

Ongoing tracking of vital signs provides more useful information than measuring them once a year while visiting the doctor and comparing them to the population averages, according to genetics professor Michael Snyder. For example, averages aren't relevant when it comes to heart rate, as this varies greatly from person to person.

"I'm predicting that your smartwatch will soon be able to alert you before you get sick, or confirm that you're sick if you're feeling a bit off," Snyder told New Scientist magazine. "If your watch says you're getting something, you'll know to go lie down instead of going out drinking and dancing."

Consumers are increasingly expecting devices to learn from their behaviour and anticipate their needs, as explored in Predictive Tech. For more on the innovative healthcare products equipping people with at-home tools for diagnosis and care, see CES 2017: DIY Doctor.