New Smartphone-Connected Thermometer Predicts Flu Activity

New Smartphone-Connected Thermometer Predicts Flu Activity

Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 - 06:30
File photo of an influenza vaccine injection. (Reuters)
San Francisco, London - Asharq Al-Awsat
By registering data of an electronic thermometer connected to a smartphone, a team of researchers at the University of Iowa tested a new approach to track flu activity at both population and individual levels, said the German news agency (dpa).

The researchers said that this technique may help in improving the capacity to predict the outbreak of some diseases in order to combat and prevent them, reported the Science Daily website.

The study’s lead author Aaron Miller, PhD, a UI postdoctoral scholar in computer science, said: “We found the smart thermometer data are highly correlated with information obtained from traditional public health surveillance systems and can be used to improve forecasting of influenza-like illness activity, possibly giving warnings of changes in disease activity a week in advance.”

As part of the study, the research team collected over 8 million temperature readings generated by almost 450,000 unique devices over a study period from August 2015 to December 2017.

The smart thermometers encrypt device identities to protect user privacy and also give users the option of providing anonymized information on age or sex. Readings were reported from all 50 US states and were aggregated to provide region and age-group specific flu activity estimates.

Professor Philip Polgreen, who participated in the study, said: “Our findings suggest that data from smart thermometers are a new source of information for accurately tracking influenza in advance of standard approaches.”

He added that more advanced information regarding influenza activity can help alert healthcare professionals that influenza and other contagious diseases are circulating.

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