Smartwatches helping to monitor the coronavirus spread; Apple Watch limited

Smartwatches are now being used to help monitor the spread of the coronavirus in Germany, though the role the Apple Watch can play in this is limited …

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Reuters reports on the initiative.

Germany’s public health authority launched a smartwatch app on Tuesday in partnership with healthtech startup Thryve to help monitor the spread of COVID-19 and analyse whether measures to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic are working.

The Corona-Datenspende (Corona Data Donation) app gathers vital signs from volunteers wearing smartwatches or fitness trackers – including pulse, temperature and sleep – to analyse whether they are symptomatic of the flu-like illness.

Results will be represented in an interactive online map that would make it possible – together with other data inputs – for the health authorities and the general public to assess the prevalence of infections down to postcode level.

“If the sample is big enough to capture enough symptomatic patients, that would help us to draw conclusions on how infections are spreading and whether containment measures are working,” said Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute that is coordinating Germany’s coronavirus response.

Some smartwatches are capable of measuring body temperature, a key symptom and something the Apple Watch cannot measure.

The Watch can help with one other sign: elevated heart-rate while sleeping. However, this data can only be captured if the Apple Watch is worn overnight. Most people instead charge their watches overnight.

It is, however, practical to wear your Watch day and night, as I discovered last year.

Most people take some time to get ready in the morning before leaving for work, so it would be perfectly practical to:

  • Wear the watch for sleep-tracking at night
  • Take it off and put it onto charge when you wake
  • Put it back on just before you leave home

If your experience is anything like mine, that will give you full use of your Watch all day and evening, as well as sleep-tracking, without any battery-life issues.

If you do want to use your Apple Watch for sleep-tracking, check out our how-to guide.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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