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Consumer Peripherals

Monitoring Health with Everyday Wearables

07 February 2018
Source: Cardiogram.

Seems like every day we hear about a new wearable designed to help monitor some kind of health condition, which is certainly a promising use of the technology — but at some point there will only be so many wearables one can reasonably wear (or, for that matter, afford).

That's what's particularly interesting about a new study about the capability of ordinary wearables — as in, the ones you likely already have — to do the same. Researchers from digital health startup Cardiogram and the University of California — San Francisco's Health eHeart Study have shown that data-collecting wearables like the Apple Watch, Android Wear, Garmin and Fitbit can detect early signs of diabetes when paired with an artificial intelligence-based algorithm.

The research validates the diabetes-detecting accuracy of a deep neural network called DeepHeart. Detecting diabetes from heart rate and step count data is possible because the autonomic nervous system connects the heart to the pancreas; shifting patterns of heart rate variability have been shown to be clear indicators of a proclivity to develop diabetes.

Previous research by the two groups has also validated DeepHeart's accuracy at detecting chronic high blood pressure (hypertension), sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation.

According to the CDC, more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with prediabetes or diabetes. One in four are undiagnosed, and 88.4 percent of people with prediabetes don't realize they have it. Also going undiagnosed are 19 percent of those with hypertension, 80 percent of those with sleep apnea and roughly 20 percent of those with atrial fibrillation.

As part of its mission to reinvent preventive medicine with consumer wearables, Cardiogram has developed an app that is currently used by more than 250,000 people each month. Its award-winning iPhone app is currently compatible with all versions of the Apple Watch; the company launched an Android version in late 2017, which can be used with any Android Wear watch that includes a heart rate sensor.

In 2018, the company, which was founded in 2016 by a duo of former Google tech leads, will launch new features to incorporate DeepHeart directly within the Cardiogram app. Stay tuned.

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