Boston-based Whoop focuses on performance-optimization for athletes and exercise enthusiasts. Whoop’s platform has three interdependent pillars: biometric sensing hardware, data analytics, and its user community. In combination, these factors can also provide useful insights beyond just physical fitness. Based on physiological data collected with the Whoop Strap 3.0 from users who self-identify as COVID-19 cases, Whoop and two study partners plan to look for relationships between respiratory rate variations and COVID-19 symptoms.

Whoop teamed up with Cleveland Clinic of Ohio and CQ University (CQU) in Australia. Whoop users who wish to do so track daily activity and behaviors in the Whoop Journal, an interactive feature launched in March. One of the options in the Whoop Journal is to track COVID-19 symptoms. A third-party study by the University of Arizona and published in February in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine rated the Whoop wearable’s accuracy in measuring respiratory rate during sleep roughly on par with polysomnography. The earlier study concluded that wearables can measure sleep and cardio-respiratory variables accurately.

The question under investigation by the Whoop, Cleveland Clinic, and CQU is whether the Whoop platform can help identify the coronavirus during the incubation period while people have no symptoms. According to Dr. Sairam Parthasarthy, professor of medicine at the Arizona College of Medicine, “An increase in respiratory rate has been shown to be an early warning sign in the development of both pulmonary and non-pulmonary disease.”

We look forward to reading the results of the Whoop study. Hopefully, COVID-19 will have retreated, at least for a while, before the study is over and reported. If, however, wearables such as Whoop can assist in detecting cases of this or other coronaviruses prior to onset of symptoms, that could be a massive win for individuals, healthcare systems, and our community at large.