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Google’s Verily Unveils Health Watch for Medical Research

April 18, 2017
by Heather Landi
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Verily Life Sciences, Alphabet’s health-focused subsidiary and formerly Google Life Sciences, unveiled last week its Verily Study Watch, a health tracking watch for use as an investigational device.

In a blog post, David He, technical lead, Tushar Parlikar, product manager and Harry Xiao, technical program manager at Verily, write that the Smart Watch represents another step in the company’s targeted efforts to “create new tools for unobtrusive biosensing.” And Verily says there is a need for the scalable collection of rich and complex datasets across clinical and observational studies.

The company says the architecture of Study Watch was tailored specifically for high quality signals and seamless usage, with consideration of the needs of observational studies, such as how continuous wear impacts a user’s experience. “These design and functionality decisions were reinforced by feedback from users, researchers, and clinicians,” the company says.

According to Verily, the Study Watch collects heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG), electrodermal activity and inertial movements and a processor supports real-time algorithms on the device. Unlike commercial wearables, the watch only displays time and certain instructions, no other information is provided back to the user.

The company also says that because the investigational device stores health data, all data are encrypted on the device for security. The encrypted data are uploaded and processed in the cloud using Verily’s backend algorithms and machine learning tools.

Currently, there are plans for the Study Watch to be used in several observational studies conducted by Verily’s partners, including the Personalized Parkinson’s Project, a multi-year study to identify patterns in the progression of Parkinson’s disease and provide a foundation for more personalized treatments.

Also, Study Watch will be used in the forthcoming Baseline study. For that study, Verily is partnering with Duke University and Stanford Medicine to conduct a longitudinal observational study that will follow approximately 10,000 participants for four years to explore transitions between health and disease.

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