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The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) wants to see prevention, detection and response to health security modernized in every area. A big part of this lies in developing capabilities for pre-symptomatic identification of illness and exposures.

An Israeli firm, Biobeat Technologies, has been developing a wearable device for testing vital signs on emergency. The device is capable of monitoring vital signs and identifying illness before wearers display – or even feel – symptoms.

BARDA Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) is fronting nearly $600,000 to see the development to fruition in a public-private partnership.

BARDA Director Rick Bright told there are many potential uses for the device to combat emerging infectious diseases and facilitate public health response.

“Wearable devices like Biobeat could represent affordable vital sign monitoring that can replace many of the more expensive types of equipment found routinely in hospital systems. This is very important when taken in the context of emergency response and humanitarian relief efforts because in those situations access to the existing infrastructure may not readily be available. In low-resource countries, hospital technology may not be available at all.”

The new wrist watch has already been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for monitoring blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, sweat, skin temperature and other factors, under the low-cost technique known as reflective photoplethysmography. The information gathered and recommendations determined can then be transmitted to apps or databases via the cloud.