Verily launches Study Watch for use in medical research
by Satish Misra MD
April 26, 2017
Verily recently announced the launch of a new smartwatch called the Study Watch that will be focused on use in medical research studies.
When it comes to smartwatches for healthcare, the Apple Watch has gotten most of the attention. A number of studies have begun to explore potential applications in healthcare, such as for management of depression or promoting healthy lifestyles. While much is made of Apple’s hidden hand in encouraging healthcare use, none of the embedded functionality was validated by Apple (at least in a publicly available way). We’ve seen some researchers begin to do that, such as studies looking at heart rate accuracy.
Google took a different approach as far back as 2015, announcing a “medical-grade” wearable focused on research. The idea was that this would come with validated, FDA-cleared functionality to drive healthcare use. That was announced nearly two years ago.
This latest product — Verily is now separated from Google, with both firms operating under the parent company Alphabet — is a much sleeker smartwatch for medical research use. It will be able to capture a wide range of data including ECG, movement data, and “electrodermal activity” (whatever that means). According to Verily, it will also have a battery that lasts a week, support onboard data analysis, and encrypt all captured data. It’s slated for use in a Parkinson’s disease study as well as in the Baseline Project.
Alphabet is clearly focusing more on the “medical grade” side of the wearable market than many others in this space, where validation of healthcare use is generally left to third-party clinical research groups. It will be interesting to see whether this approach translates, for example, in digital health tools for, say, Parkinson’s disease that use the Study Watch. Hopefully, with what appears to be enthusiastic support from Alphabet, we’ll see more robust validation testing on both the data the Study Watch captures and its health applications.
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