It sounds tempting: a watch that can monitor and record multiple biometric and environmental measures including electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, skin electrical activity, and motion. It runs for up to a week on a single charge. It stores enough data for a week or more, so you don’t have to sync it as often. Its processor can do a lot of the number crunching on board. The system is designed to receive over the air upgrades, from data-processing algorithms to the user interface. And it tells the time all the time, using a low-power, high-resolution display. And the cost?
That’s the bad news; you can’t buy it. What is this new watch? It’s called the Study Watch from Verily, which is part of Alphabet, which is also the parent company of Google. The Study Watch is intended for a single purpose: “the scalable collection of rich and complex datasets across clinical and observational studies.” In short, it is a research tool for health and medical research. It is designed from the ground up with security in mind; data is encrypted on the device, before it is sent to the cloud for storage and processing.
The Study Watch is not going to be offered to consumers, but instead will be made available to research partners for project’s such as Verily’s Personalized Parkinson’s Project. The watch will also be used as part of Verily’s ambitious Project Baseline that aims to collect rich, longitudinal data from 10,000 participants over a four year span. This information will be analyzed in hopes of finding biomarkers and other early indications of disease, including cardiovascular problems and cancer.