Some soldiers in the U.S. military have been equipped with wearables that provides early warning of COVID-19 infection. The technology known as Rapid Analysis of Threat Exposure (RATE), consists of a watch and a ring kit that provide early warning of infection up to 48 hours before a person becomes symptomatic, helping ensure military readiness, and protect against the threat of further spread of the disease, said DTRA Science and Technology Manager Ed Argenta.
Dr. Joe Frassica, the chief medical officer and head of Philips Research North America, the company assisting DTRA, said “As we continue to get new data from monitored cases of COVID-19, we will be able to refine the RATE-COVID algorithm in the near future. We hope that this will not only allow us to protect people from contracting the disease but to also intervene early and treat those who are infected.”
The system was developed by the Defense Innovation Unit in collaboration with Phillips Healthcare and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The watch and ring were designed by Garmin and Oura, respectively. The commercially available devices contain technology that can detect subtle biometric indicators such as slight changes in skin temperature.
Data from 165 different biomarkers is collected by RATE and that data is then processed in the cloud to allow users to see their hourly RATE score through a secure website, reports David Vergun, DOD News.
Using RATE, researchers discovered that exposure to infectious agents causes subtle changes in people’s physiology before they experience symptoms. It is very important to identify these changes early on in order to contain the spread, as asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals don’t yet show signs of infection.
The researchers aren’t currently seeking FDA approval of the device for larger consumer populations. But they said it’s absolutely the sort of thing that will have usefulness, for the military at least, long after the COVID-19 threat has passed.