Windows into human health through wearables data analytics
Background: Wearable sensors (wearables) have been commonly integrated into a wide variety of commercial products and are increasingly being used to collect and process raw physiological parameters into salient digital health information. The data collected by wearables are currently being investigated across a broad set of clinical domains and patient populations. There is significant research occurring in the domain of algorithm development, with the aim of translating raw sensor data into fitness- or health-related outcomes of interest for users, patients, and health-care providers. Objectives: The aim of this review is to highlight a selected group of fitness- and health-related indicators from wearables data and to describe several algorithmic approaches used to generate these higher order indicators. Methods: A systematic search of the PubMed database was performed with the following search terms (number of records in parentheses): Fitbit algorithm (18), Apple Watch algorithm (3), Garmin algorithm (5), Microsoft Band algorithm (8), Samsung Gear algorithm (2), Xiaomi MiBand algorithm (1), Huawei Band (Watch) algorithm (2), photoplethysmography algorithm (465), accelerometry algorithm (966), electrocardiogram (ECG) algorithm (8287), and continuous glucose monitor algorithm (343). The search terms chosen for this review are focused on algorithms for wearable devices that dominated the commercial wearables market between 2014 and 2017 and that were highly represented in the biomedical literature. A second set of search terms included categories of algorithms for fitness-related and health-related indicators that are commonly used in wearable devices (e.g. accelerometry, PPG, ECG). These articles covered the following domain areas: fitness; exercise; movement; physical activity; step count; walking; running; swimming; energy expenditure; atrial fibrillation; arrhythmia; cardiovascular; autonomic nervous system; neuropathy; heart rate variability; fall detection; trauma; behavior change; diet; eating; stress detection; serum glucose monitoring; continuous glucose monitoring; diabetes mellitus type 1; and diabetes mellitus type 2. All studies uncovered through this search on commercially available device algorithms and pivotal studies on sensor algorithm development were summarized, and a summary table was constructed using references generated by the literature review as described (Table 1). Conclusions: Wearable health technologies aim to collect and process raw physiological or environmental parameters into salient digital health information. Much of the current and future utility of wearables lies in the signal processing steps and algorithms used to analyze large volumes of data. Continued algorithmic development and advances in machine learning techniques will further increase analytic capabilities. In the context of these advances, our review aims to highlight a range of advances in fitness- and other health-related indicators provided by current wearable technologies.
Witt, DR; Kellogg, RA; Snyder, MP; Dunn, J
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)