Verily announces smartwatch to transform clinical research
Verily announces smartwatch to transform clinical research
(Credit: Verily)

Verily announces smartwatch to transform clinical research

Verily, the life sciences unit of Google parent company Alphabet, has announced a smartwatch aimed at transforming care platforms and clinical research.

The Study Watch, which Verily describes as an “investigational device”, captures health data critical in the running of care platforms and clinical research.

The company wanted to design a unique wearable for the health market, one capable of collecting “rich and complex datasets across clinical and observational studies”.

This announcement, according to the company, is another step towards its efforts in creating new tools for unobstructive bio-sensing within the lucrative healthcare market.

Packed with tech

The Study Watch is underpinned by an architecture tailored for high-quality signals and seamless usage.

The device also considers the needs of observational studies, such as how constant wear may affect a user’s experience during an ongoing research project.

These design and functionality decisions were assisted from feedback issued by users, researchers and clinicians within the healthcare field.

It sports an always-on display, which currently shows time and instructions, and no information is provided back to the user.

There are also a mixture of physiological and environmental sensors that can measure signals for studies covering cardiovascular, movement disorders, and other areas.

At this stage, healthcare professionals can monitor electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, electrodermal activity, and inertial movements. There’s enough storage to store one week’s worth of raw data, meaning practitioners don’t have to sync the device constantly.

A powerful processor supports real-time algorithms, and the firmware has been designed to support future extensions. Examples include new algorithms and user interface upgrades.

Battery life is one week, and data is encrypted for security reasons. Information is processed in the cloud by complex algorithms and machine learning tools.

Non-commercial audience

Unlike the vast array of personal fitness gadgets available to consumers, this device hasn’t been designed for the general market. Instead, it’ll be utilized in conversational studies conducted by Verily’s exclusive partners.

For instance, it’s being used in the Personalized Parkinson’s Project, a multi-year study that aims to identify the progressive patterns of Parkinson’s disease.

The watch will also be used in the upcoming Baseline study at Duke University and Stanford Medicine in the US, which will investigate disease transitions, including those related to cardiovascular disease and cancer. More will be announced in the future.

“Today, we are proud to debut our newest investigational device, the Verily Study Watch. The ability to passively capture health data is critical to the success of continuous care platforms and clinical research,” said in a blog post.

“Study Watch represents another step in our targeted efforts to create new tools for unobtrusive biosensing. While numerous wearables exist in the market, we have a specific need outside of these offerings: namely, the scalable collection of rich and complex datasets across clinical and observational studies.”

Read more: Connected medical devices improve patient engagement, but not for long

Lucrative opportunity

Tarquin Scadding-Hunt, CEO of life sciences specialist MDGroup, believes that wearable technology has a fundamental role in clinical trials and research. The potential is limitless, he said.

“We are seeing an increasingly important role for wearable technology in clinical trials. A 2015 study by Bloomberg showed that 229 studies had already incorporated wearables into their data collection, this number is set to increase significantly by 2018,” he told Internet of Business.

“While current studies of sleep, movement and stress often take place in a clinical setting or involve cumbersome and invasive technologies, putting pressure on resources, as well as participants, wearable technology can be used in everyday situations.

“They are discrete enough to be worn for work, play and sleep. The benefit of this new technology lies in their inconspicuousness, giving access to physical responses to stimuli in entirely natural environments.”

Read more: New mHealth sensor developed to monitor blood-flow with wearables