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Sickness Trackers

January 13, 2017

Fitness tracking devices could also alert users that they’re getting sick, and provide medical information to doctors.



Wearable fitness monitors can perform double duty, alerting users to early signs of illness. (Pexels/Public Domain)


Wearable sickness trackers. I’m Bob Hirshon, and this is Science Update.

Fitness trackers worn on the wrist help people meet their exercise goals and stay healthy. Now, researchers report in the journal PLOS Biology, that the devices can also discover when you’re sick. Stanford biologist Michael Snyder and his team developed computer algorithms that analyze activity, heart rate, skin temperature, and other sensor data. Snyder himself was part of the team that tested the technology.

MICHAEL SNYDER (Stanford University School of Medicine):

We think it will become a very powerful tool for detecting when people get ill. In may case, it turned out to be incredibly valuable for determining when I got Lyme disease.


Abnormal vital signs led him to see his doctor, who was able to diagnose his infection early enough to treat it effectively. Snyder says in the future, patients— especially those with medical conditions— could share sensor data with their doctors remotely, to keep tabs on their health between checkups. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Story by Bob Hirshon