courtesy of Fitbit
Talia Avakian
October 22, 2016

Staying healthy and avoiding sickness on the road can be a challenge, as anyone who has skipped a workout or chosen a hamburger over a salad on vacation knows.

A recently released app wants to help by monitoring your vital signs: Achu uses data from Fitbit to warn when you may be about to get sick.

Developed by Toronto-based studio Datapult, the app tracks each of the metrics recorded through Fitbit—like heart rate and sleep efficiency—and combines them with data users report themselves.

According to Michael Morra, chief technology officer at Datapult, people typically see a change in metrics like their sleep patterns or heart rate in the days leading up to a cold.

The app can analyze the data, according to Morra, and send a warning when it notices the body repeating certain patterns. The warning lets people know when they should consider increasing their water intake, getting additional sleep, or taking vitamins.

Dana March, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, told Travel + Leisure that the app’s accuracy would weigh heavily on how active the user is in providing data. Predictive analytics, with this app and others, require algorithms to make assumptions, so the more data a user can provide to it, the fewer assumptions the app's algorithms have to make.

“For the app to be successful, you have to do a fair amount of logging your own symptoms,” said March. “Given the way that people tend to use wearable technology, it really requires a behavior change on the part of the people to actively engage and reliably wear their Fitbit.”

While March doesn’t see the app as a primary prevention tool to prevent sickness, she said it could potentially provide assistance towards shortening the duration of a cold depending on how much a person engages with it and how early on the app can begin detecting shifts in the body’s metrics leading up to a cold.

Morra was inspired to create the app after studying artificial intelligence and predictive science, and found that all of the data was based on utilizing previous history to find trends.

“I would always wake up with a flu after finals and realized my body repeats these patterns prior to me being sick, so I figured since Fitbit is a tool for recording this data, we can manipulate it to predict future sickness patterns,” Morra said.

Achu is available on iOS and plans to launch on Android soon.

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