Chapter 10 Future of wearables, apps, and sensors

10.1 What is on the horizon: novel uses of wearables, apps and sensors

We provide examples of new wearables, apps, and sensors that could be integrated in research studies in the future, such as hearables, swallowables (e.g., gut microbiome), and new features on the horizon for existing sensors (e.g., temperature, pulse ox, etc). Examples of the benefits of future use of these technologies will be discussed as well as whether these novel measures would replace or complement existing measures.

10.2 Other technological changes that will influence the future of WAS

We discuss ongoing developments related to the integration of new sensors in smartphones as well as the ever-increasing storage capacity of devices, the complexity of apps, and - possibly most importantly - rapid developments in cloud computing which provides rapid access to data, often in real time, and the associated costs and benefits (i.e., cloud storage costs and hurdles, reduced burden to participants) will be discussed. Recent updates to current studies in the field, such as the U.S. NIH-funded All of Us study, will be provided.

10.3 Using WAS to address societal issues

We will discuss the implications of WAS to measure such important societal issues and challenges as current and upcoming infectious diseases and pandemics (i.e., drawing from and expanding on examples from the COVID-19 pandemic), the importance of considering health equity, and the role of WAS in providing equitable and expanded methods of measuring inequity, as well as the move towards data modernization and the implications for data collection using WAS. Further ethical considerations will be discussed as well.

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