Fitbit’s activity-tracking wearable devices are already being used by a number of academic institutions to determine if they might be able to contribute to the early detection of COVID-19 and the flu, and now Fitbit itself is launching its own dedicated Fitbit COVID-19 Study, which users can sign up for from within their Fitbit mobile app. If you’re at least 21 years old and live in the US or Canada, you can volunteer by filling out a questionnaire regarding your health (such as whether you’ve had COVID-19). Fitbit will combine that with activity data to see if there are any telltale clues and, ideally, build an algorithm that alerts people before they infect others.
The study is available in the app’s Discover tab under Assessments & Reports, and you can withdraw at any time.
As with studies from Scripps and Stanford, there’s no guarantee this will lead to a usable detection system. There’s still a lot humanity doesn’t know about COVID-19. If Fitbit succeeds in finding an algorithm, though, it could both improve understanding of the disease and help isolate infected people before they have a chance to spread the illness to others.