Samsung Galaxy app detects early Covid-19 infection

  • June 14, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

An app for Samsung Galaxy watches uses biometric data that help detect Covid-19 infections early.

Samsung in South Africa worked with local insurance company 1Life and US biometrics firm LifeQ to develop the app for a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 device.

The Covid-19 screening app uses models derived from users’ biometric data to give them an indication of changes in their health, enabling consumers to take proactive precautions in the event of potential Covid-19 onset, which could be essential as South Africa faces a potential third wave of infections.

There is growing evidence for the use of biometrics in early detection of many physical conditions, and this Covid-19 option is the first of many that Georgia-based LifeQ plans to offer to consumers, athletes and those with acute and chronic illness.

The LifeQ Covid-19 app can flag potential Covid-19 onset in an individual entering the dangerous 48-hour period of viral shedding before symptoms are experienced, which assists in slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and could prove to be helpful in the pre-symptomatic detection of Covid-19 infection, encouraging individuals to isolate earlier rather than later.

“Recent studies indicate that biometric data collected on wearables can be used as early warning indicators of Covid-19,” said Laurence Hillman, CEO at 1Life. “There’s a great opportunity here to empower consumers to make informed decisions using these data, helping them take precautions or seek medical assistance in good time. Through 1Life Pulse, which we launched last year, we’ve already made wearables and biometric data available to end users. The next step is to provide them with LifeQ Covid-19 screening– giving them peace of mind around their wellbeing – letting them know they are doing OK, but also warning them around changes detected which may signal the onset of Covid-19.”

The app aims to help contain transmission of the virus by alerting individuals to possible infection prior to symptom onset through a combination of physiological monitoring and user feedback.

“The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is designed to accurately measure users’ heartrates, skin temperature and other physiological indicators,” said Justin Hume, director of integrated mobility at Samsung in South Africa. “Combined with LifeQ’s unique software and models, data from the Galaxy Watch Active 2 can be used to help spot coronavirus infections days before an individual shows any symptoms. This is innovation in action and being able to provide South Africans with vital information even before they are symptomatic cements the power of technology in modern society and amplifies the value of wearable technology.”

Changes in physiology, detected by LifeQ, using data from the watch, alerts individuals to changes and allows them to provide contextual feedback via a web-based app. The app provides each person with a daily screening status to help guide their behaviour and interactions with others. This helps them make informed decisions around self-isolation and testing.

“One of the biggest problems with Covid-19 is the period in which you have the disease and don’t know it, not knowing if you are passing it on to your loved ones or work colleagues,” said Christopher Rimmer, chief commercial officer at LifeQ. “With this app, we are hoping to change that, and give people the information they need to be proactive and slow the rate of infection. We are in control of so many aspects of our lives, but when it comes to health – particularly Covid-19 – we often feel helpless and anxious, until now.”

The app ensures users can monitor their status to provide an early indication of changes in health and possible Covid-19 infection. It provides a simple way to know how the wearer is doing and if they might be progressing towards illness.

A green status signals that the user doing well, there appear to be no issues and they can continue with day-to-day normality. A yellow status signals the user should be exercising caution, adjusting behaviour and monitoring for symptoms within the next one to two days. A red status signals the wearer is unwell since they have either reported symptoms or a positive Covid-19 test within the app.

The app also gives users a pre-infection risk score that provides an indication of their risk of getting seriously ill if they were to contract Covid-19.

“This type of proactive communication with the user around their health is revolutionary, not only in mitigating the risk of spreading the disease, but also in putting the health of the individual and their contacts into their own hands,” said Hillman. “We all know that when it comes to looking after our health and wellbeing, prevention and early detection is key. There is no doubt that, as we move forward, we are learning more and more about Covid-19 and are identifying better ways to prevent transmission beyond social and vaccination measures. As a business that is always striving to change people’s lives, we are extremely proud to be able to offer this app to our 1Life Pulse policyholders.”

The LifeQ Covid-19 screening app and supporting technology are not diagnostic and should not be used as an official diagnosis for Covid-19.