FitBit, the most popular wearable fitness tracker ever with 36 million trackers sold since 2014, is lending a helping hand to medical research efforts and has been instrumental in providing data for hundreds of studies. This endeavor has also been said to help with recruitment and retention of clinical research staff.
John Hopkins University and University of Texas are two of the first schools selected to analyze data from FitBit wearers. The data is taken from Fitabase, a research platform that collects data from consumer devices. Having this data at the hands of scientists and medical researchers has revolutionized the way medical research is being conducted.
Fitabase has collected over 2 billion minutes of data over the last four years and 200 studies have already been published using this data. The ability to have this information on hand without conducting individual clinical trials will drastically shorten medical research time, with saving time and costs too.
Even though FitBit has received criticism regarding the accuracy of sleep and heart rate tracking, this data has still been shown to be useful for clinical trials. Another consideration, is that in a typical clinical trial, researchers rely on participants to self-report, having a wearable that tracks this data for you will ensure more reliable data as well!
Aaron Coleman, CEO of Fitabase said, “FitBit’s consumer-friendly technology provides our customers with an accurate, meaningful way to capture 24/7, real-time data so they can design innovative study protocols in ways not possible before.”
How is this data playing out? Well for example, FitBit and Fitabase joined teams for a study that used the trackers to monitor activity to be able to better predict recovery on spine injuries, like correcting scoliosis.
It’s worth noting, this data isn’t really gathered from just anyone. There are selected study participants wearing FitBit that this data is being curated from.
Fitness trackers present a tremendous opportunity for the medical industry to gather a massive amount of data in ways that were never before possible. With new devices coming out every month that track new things, like the Zenta emotions tracker, wearables are providing ample opportunity for scientists to make huge strides in medical research.
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