Apple begins studying whether the Watch can predict COVID-19

You can participate if you live in Seattle.

Dana Wollman/Engadget

Apple said in September that it would launch a study into the use of the Apple Watch as a predictor for COVID-19, and it's now acting on that promise. AppleInsider and MacRumors report that Apple, the University of Washington and the Seattle Flu Study have begun accepting volunteers for a Seattle area study gauging whether or not the Watch and iPhone can predict respiratory illnesses like (and including) COVID-19.

Each participant will get a study-supplied Apple Watch they'll have to wear "day and night" for as long as six months. Everyone involved will have to fill out weekly surveys in the Apple Research app on their iPhone, but those who get sick will both receive an at-home nasal swab test and a request to provide more Apple Watch health data. As with many such studies, the info and participation will remain confidential.

If you want to participate, you'll need to be a Seattle area resident 22 years or older with at least an iPhone 6s.

A Mount Sinai study published months ago found that the Apple Watch might detect COVID-19 early by spotting subtle changes to heartbeats up to a week before symptoms appear. Stanford research further supported this, too. The UW project could corroborate those findings, and it wouldn't be surprising if the data influenced Apple Watch designs (or at least WatchOS) going forward.