You might think wearable tech is another bit of useless kit phone companies are trying to flog, but smartwatches could soon tell us if we’re about to get ill and protect us from disease.

New research looking at data from health-monitoring wearable tech led to the detection of incoming colds and more serious issues like diabetes. 

A woman coughs

Scientists predict this technology could warn you about an incoming cold before you show symptoms (PA)

 

Scientists monitored some subjects for up to two years and recorded stats like heart rate and skin temperature. Long-term monitoring of baseline measurements meant that slight deviations caused by the start of an illness could be easily detected.

The team even found Lyme disease in one case, in their lead author, who was also wearing a device for the study.

“I had elevated heart rate and decreased oxygen at the start of my vacation and knew something was not quite right,” said Dr Michael Snyder of the Stanford Genetics department, who received successful treatment for the disease.

An Apple smartwatch
In the future wearables like this Apple Watch might be able to warn you about underlying health issues (Lynne Cameron/PA)

 

The devices were also able to detect small variations in heart rate in people with early insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. So future tech could warn us via a health dashboard on our smartphones if we became at risk of certain diseases.

Early diagnosis is key with illnesses like Lyme disease and diabetes, so smartwatches of the future really could improve the well-being of their users.

The paper was published in PLOS Biology and you can see it here.

Read more: Why you should consider a smartwatch