American space agency NASA has said that it will provide Fitbit devices to 1,000 of its employees, including 150 astronauts. This comes as part of a pilot program designed to see if Fitbit's can help supplement efforts to keep mission-critical personnel healthy ahead of key space missions. The program will see NASA employees strap on a wearable and will be provided access to a daily check-in app they can use to log potential symptoms, as well as their temperature and other key metrics, which could potentially help spot a developing COVID-19 infection.
This comes amid NASA's already in-place measures to isolate astronauts and to limit the spread of COVID-19 across its facilities located across the United States. The new Fitbit program is design to supplement those existing measures, providing tracked health metrics including resting heart rate and heart rate variability, respiratory rate, changes in all of which have been linked to COVID-19. These stats, alonside the self-reported metrics logged in by NASA employees will be used by the app to provide guidance to those enrolled in the program.
Fitbit, which was recently formally acquired by Google, has been a part of studies that are trying to determine whether its variable devices and the metrics they log can be useful in providing early COVID-19 detection.
For astronauts, NASA has beefed up existing isolation and sequestration procedures, which are already very strict, in order to guarantee that its space travelers don’t get sick before they’re set to make a trip outside the Earth.