The alphabet isn’t what it used to be. At least, not when it comes to Google. You see, technically Google’s parent company is called ‘Alphabet’ and it is looking to re-write the A,B,C’s of health by undertaking a massive research project to create a map of human health…..using a smartwatch.
Verily, the health company formerly known as Google Life Sciences, owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has released a smartwatch with the most robust health tracking system ever—but it’s not for sale. Sorry, guys.
Called Study Watch, it’s designed to track physiological and environmental sensors—such as electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, electrodermal activity, and movement—over a long period of time. The watch will work as a wearable research tool for clinical studies and personalized healthcare.
According to Fortune Magazine, Alphabet is “launching a four-year study with about 10,000 participants to understand how people transition from being healthy to becoming sick, and to identify additional risk factors for diseases.”
The study, called “Baseline,” is a partnership between Verily (the medical arm of Alphabet), Duke University and Stanford Medicine. Forbes.com writes –
Verily’s goal is to “apply next-generation tools to explore health and disease,” according to Chief Medical Officer Jess Mega, a cardiologist and clinical trial expert recruited from Harvard in 2015 and a leader of the Baseline project. (You can listen to a recent Tech Tonics interview with Mega here.)
Subjects will be recruited by Duke and Stanford, as well as by a study website, and will be evaluated at one of two sites in North Carolina, or one of two sites in California. There will be a significant “grassroots” recruitment effort at these sites to help ensure diversity and minimize some of the biases that have been observed in mHealth studies, Mega says.
CNBC added, “The goal for the study, (said Verily’s chief medical officer Jessica Mega), is to “create a map of human health.”
As Mega explained, most doctors will treat symptoms as they arise, but have little indication into how the patient was faring in the years leading up to the illness. The Baseline researchers are hoping to find early warning signs for disease from all the data it is collecting, including on sleep, activity, heart rate, genomics and more, which might translate into new lifestyle or therapeutic interventions.
U.S. News & World Report quoted Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association as saying, “The Project Baseline study has the opportunity to significantly influence our current body of knowledge by better understanding the indicators of wellness. The outcome of this study could inspire a new generation of tools that are geared towards disease prevention versus just diagnosis and treatment.”
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this new health research project. Do you think we will look back at it in a few years as a real game changer? Or do you think it will turn out to be a lot of sizzle without much substance? Driving thoughtful conversations around the health innovations making headlines, like this one, is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!