Your wearable might be an early warning system for viral illness

A health study conducted by Scripps Research

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When your heart beats faster than usual, it can mean that you’re coming down with a cold, flu, coronavirus, or other viral infection. That's the conclusion of recent medical research.

So wearable devices that measure your resting heart rate—made by Apple, Fitbit, Garmin, Withings, and others—might help scientists spot viral outbreaks, and also give you more insight into your own health.

At The Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, we have teamed up with Scripps Research in the US, who have designed DETECT ( Digital Engagement & Tracking for Early Control & Treatment), a study that will monitor your heart rate and also allow you to record symptoms like fever or coughing. DETECT Australia will also help determine how people’s mental health and behaviours like exercise, diet, sleep, and alcohol intake vary during pandemics.

Spot viral outbreaks

As a participant in the DETECT Australia health study, you'll be able to track your resting heart rate, and anonymously share this information with scientists at The Charles Perkins Centre and Scripps Research.

Our goal is to identify areas with viral outbreaks quickly. We hope that an early warning might someday give public health officials more time to take action, and for you to take better care of yourself and your loved ones.

We also hope to develop more individualized approaches to health care. Instead of comparing your heart rate (or other vital signs) to the "average," we would like to learn what's normal for you. Eventually, that might help us to better predict when you're getting sick.


If you are at least 18 years of age, living in Australia and have a wearable device that tracks your heart rate, please consider joining DETECT Australia. Simply install our app, MyDataHelps™, and help out with scientific research that has the potential to improve the health of people everywhere. Participant Information found here.

Download MyDataHelps™ to Join DETECT