Rapid Screening of Physiological Changes Associated with COVID-19 Using Soft-Wearables and Structured Activities: A Pilot Study
Objective: Controlling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic largely depends on scaling up the testing infrastructure for identifying infected individuals. Consumer-grade wearables may present a solution to detect the presence of infections in the population, but the current paradigm requires collecting physiological data continuously and for long periods of time on each individual, which poses limitations in the context of rapid screening. Technology: Here, we propose a novel paradigm based on recording the physiological responses elicited by a short (~2 minutes) sequence of activities (i.e. “snapshot”), to detect symptoms associated with COVID-19. We employed a novel body-conforming soft wearable sensor placed on the suprasternal notch to capture data on physical activity, cardio-respiratory function, and cough sounds. Results: We performed a pilot study in a cohort of individuals (n=14) who tested positive for COVID-19 and detected altered heart rate, respiration rate and heart rate variability, relative to a group of healthy individuals (n=14) with no known exposure. Logistic regression classifiers were trained on individual and combined sets of physiological features (heartbeat and respiration dynamics, walking cadence, and cough frequency spectrum) at discriminating COVID-positive participants from the healthy group. Combining features yielded an AUC of 0.94 (95% CI=[0.92, 0.96]) using a leave-one-subject-out cross validation scheme. Conclusions and Clinical Impact: These results, although preliminary, suggest that a sensor-based snapshot paradigm may be a promising approach for non-invasive and repeatable testing to alert individuals that need further screening.