Germany launches smartwatch app for tracking COVID-19 pandemic
Germany is launching a smartwatch app to help monitor the spread of the coronavirus.
The app, created by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), is called Corona Datenspende, which translates as the Corona Data Donation. It allows users with devices like Apple Watch or fitness trackers such as Fitbit to share data about coronavirus symptoms to track the spread of the pandemic in Germany.
The free app logs a person’s postcode (ZIP code), age and weight. It can also track changes in activity and sleep habits, heart rate and body temperature. At a press conference Tuesday, RKI head Lothar Wieler said that these metrics can help track acute respiratory disease.
The data will be used to create an online map of Germany so that citizens can look up infection rates by location. RKI hopes that it will be possible to “reach 100,000” people with the effort. “Even 10,000 people … would be excellent,” said RKI’s epidemiological modelling expert Dirk Brockmann.
According to Reuters, Germany has the fourth highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases behind the United States, Spain and Italy. However, despite numbers hitting almost 100,000, fatalities are a mere 1,600. Reports credit this to early and extensive testing.
This is not the first app designed to help track and control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple has partnered with the CDC to launch a COVID-19 screening app.
Meanwhile, U.K. health researchers recently launched a COVID-19 symptom-tracking app to help monitor the spread of the coronavirus. Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic and Central Queensland University in Australia have also partnered with the makers of the Whoop wearable to track changes in respiration rates.
Governments are going one step beyond apps, as well. In Europe, eight major telecoms providers in Europe have reportedly agreed to share mobile phone location data with officials to track the spread of COVID-19. U.S. government officials are also using location data from cellphone users around the country to track movement during the coronavirus pandemic.