Using wearables to detect infections: A co-created & community-led pandemic response

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Presenter: Bastian Greshake Tzovaras

In March 2020 – during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic – a big question popped up in the heads of the data nerds of the Open Humans & Quantified Self community: We are wearing all these sophisticated wearable devices that measure our heart rate, respiratory rate and even sometimes even body temperature - can these things be used to find out when we’re falling sick even before we consciously notice having symptoms? Starting from this initial question a community quickly formed to iteratively and collaboratively create “Quantified Flu” – an open source online-tool to facilitate individual learning and insights at the intersection of early physiological warning signs and self-observed symptoms. The final prototype enables people to report over 15 different symptoms through daily reporting while monitoring physiological signals from a large variety of the most common wearable devices. We’ll not only showcase the final prototype, but also investigate how the open and iterative development process unfolded and how this helped to create a tool that fits the needs of the self-tracking community. We furthermore see how this fit of digital affordances & needs enabled a level of user engagement that’s highly untypical for the “mobile health” space.
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