Fitbit gets $2.5M to test wearable tech COVID-19 early detection algorithm on Northwell Health employees

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command awarded Fitbit $2.5 million to develop wearable tech capabilities that can detect COVID-19 before symptoms start and test the devices with Northwell Health, according to an Oct. 29 news release.

The Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium award will support Fitbit's ongoing work as well as help the company start a study of the tech alongside New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health's Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research.

The study aims to validate a Fitbit COVID-19 early detection algorithm, and as part of the initiative, Fitbit will distribute thousands of wearable devices to Northwell employees. The individuals will then be notified of potential illness and be tested for COVID-19 to assess and verify results.

The study builds upon Fitbit's work in COVID-19 research, which includes a collaborative research consortium with the Scripps Research Institute and Stanford (Calif.) Medicine that launched earlier this year. As part of the initiative, Fitbit is conducting a study to determine whether it can create an algorithm to detect COVID-19 before symptoms start; early findings show that the algorithm can identify almost 50 percent of COVID-19 cases before users report having symptoms with nearly 70 percent specificity.

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