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Wearables to Fight COVID-19: From Symptom Tracking to Contact Tracing

Oliver Amft; Luis Ignacio Lopera; Paul Lukowicz; Sizhen Bian; Paul Burggraf
In: IEEE Pervasive Computing, Vol. 19, Pages 53-60, IEEE, 12/2020.


THE NEW CORONAVIRUS pandemic has promoted the new development of mobile and wearable computing in unprecedented ways. We discuss how on-body devices can help to fight the pandemic and may stay as a toolset to effectively deal with infectious diseases in the future. WHY WEARABLES? Researchers and health policy managers turned to smartphones and on-body devices mostly for their ubiquity, i.e., to offer health and safety-related information to a large share of the population or gather patient responses. Yet, smartphones and wearables enable fast data and information flow, which is particularly relevant for the rapid infectious character of SARS-CoV-2. We observe that continuous sensor and behavior data of smartphones and on-body devices are important as virus testing is associated with effort, cost, and provides only one-time information , and global immunization is still far away. We focus here on already existing and newly created wearable devices and smartphone apps for everyday use, but we exclude clinical and laboratory measurement systems, e.g., for heart and respiratory assessment. For researchers and public health authorities, symptom screening and tracking based on continuous sensor data from wearables and smartphones can provide insight into a possible infection of individuals. Also important are methods for social distancing and digital contact tracing, devices and apps for managing quarantine/self-isolation, and clinical management. To round-off this overview, we summarize lessons learnt from selected initiatives. … Read more

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