Assessment of the Feasibility of Using Noninvasive Wearable Biometric Monitoring Sensors to Detect Influenza and the Common Cold Before Symptom Onset.



Currently, there are no presymptomatic screening methods to identify individuals infected with a respiratory virus to prevent disease spread and to predict their trajectory for resource allocation.


To evaluate the feasibility of using noninvasive, wrist-worn wearable biometric monitoring sensors to detect presymptomatic viral infection after exposure and predict infection severity in patients exposed to H1N1 influenza or human rhinovirus.

Design, setting, and participants

The cohort H1N1 viral challenge study was conducted during 2018; data were collected from September 11, 2017, to May 4, 2018. The cohort rhinovirus challenge study was conducted during 2015; data were collected from September 14 to 21, 2015. A total of 39 adult participants were recruited for the H1N1 challenge study, and 24 adult participants were recruited for the rhinovirus challenge study. Exclusion criteria for both challenges included chronic respiratory illness and high levels of serum antibodies. Participants in the H1N1 challenge study were isolated in a clinic for a minimum of 8 days after inoculation. The rhinovirus challenge took place on a college campus, and participants were not isolated.


Participants in the H1N1 challenge study were inoculated via intranasal drops of diluted influenza A/California/03/09 (H1N1) virus with a mean count of 106 using the median tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50) assay. Participants in the rhinovirus challenge study were inoculated via intranasal drops of diluted human rhinovirus strain type 16 with a count of 100 using the TCID50 assay.

Main outcomes and measures

The primary outcome measures included cross-validated performance metrics of random forest models to screen for presymptomatic infection and predict infection severity, including accuracy, precision, sensitivity, specificity, F1 score, and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC).


A total of 31 participants with H1N1 (24 men [77.4%]; mean [SD] age, 34.7 [12.3] years) and 18 participants with rhinovirus (11 men [61.1%]; mean [SD] age, 21.7 [3.1] years) were included in the analysis after data preprocessing. Separate H1N1 and rhinovirus detection models, using only data on wearble devices as input, were able to distinguish between infection and noninfection with accuracies of up to 92% for H1N1 (90% precision, 90% sensitivity, 93% specificity, and 90% F1 score, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.70-1.00] AUC) and 88% for rhinovirus (100% precision, 78% sensitivity, 100% specificity, 88% F1 score, and 0.96 [95% CI, 0.85-1.00] AUC). The infection severity prediction model was able to distinguish between mild and moderate infection 24 hours prior to symptom onset with an accuracy of 90% for H1N1 (88% precision, 88% sensitivity, 92% specificity, 88% F1 score, and 0.88 [95% CI, 0.72-1.00] AUC) and 89% for rhinovirus (100% precision, 75% sensitivity, 100% specificity, 86% F1 score, and 0.95 [95% CI, 0.79-1.00] AUC).

Conclusions and relevance

This cohort study suggests that the use of a noninvasive, wrist-worn wearable device to predict an individual's response to viral exposure prior to symptoms is feasible. Harnessing this technology would support early interventions to limit presymptomatic spread of viral respiratory infections, which is timely in the era of COVID-19.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Grzesiak, Emilia, Brinnae Bent, Micah T McClain, Christopher W Woods, Ephraim L Tsalik, Bradly P Nicholson, Timothy Veldman, Thomas W Burke, et al. (2021). Assessment of the Feasibility of Using Noninvasive Wearable Biometric Monitoring Sensors to Detect Influenza and the Common Cold Before Symptom Onset. JAMA network open, 4(9). p. e2128534. 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.28534 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Micah Thomas McClain

Associate Professor of Medicine

Ephraim Tsalik

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine

My research at Duke has focused on understanding the dynamic between host and pathogen so as to discover and develop host-response markers that can diagnose and predict health and disease.  This new and evolving approach to diagnosing illness has the potential to significantly impact individual as well as public health considering the rise of antibiotic resistance.

With any potential infectious disease diagnosis, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine at the time of presentation what the underlying cause of illness is.  For example, acute respiratory illness is among the most frequent reasons for patients to seek care. These symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, and fever may be due to a bacterial infection, viral infection, both, or a non-infectious condition such as asthma or allergies.  Given the difficulties in making the diagnosis, most patients are inappropriately given antibacterials.  However, each of these etiologies (bacteria, virus, or something else entirely) leaves a fingerprint embedded in the host’s response. We are very interested in finding those fingerprints and exploiting them to generate new approaches to understand, diagnose, and manage disease.

These principles also apply to sepsis, defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. Just as with acute respiratory illness, it is often difficult to identify whether infection is responsible for a patient’s critical illness.  We have embarked on a number of research programs that aim to better identify sepsis; define sepsis subtypes that can be used to guide future clinical research; and to better predict sepsis outcomes.  These efforts have focused on many systems biology modalities including transcriptomics, miRNA, metabolomics, and proteomics.  Consequently, our Data Science team has utilized these highly complex data to develop new statistical methods, furthering both the clinical and statistical research communities.

These examples are just a small sampling of the breadth of research Dr. Tsalik and his colleagues have conducted.  

In April 2022, Dr. Tsalik has joined Danaher Diagnostics as the VP and Chief Scientific Officer for Infectious Disease, where he is applying this experience in biomarkers and diagnostics to shape the future of diagnostics in ID. 


Ricardo Henao

Associate Professor in Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Geoffrey Steven Ginsburg

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine

Dr. Geoffrey S. Ginsburg's research interests are in the development of novel paradigms for developing and translating genomic information into medical practice and the integration of personalized medicine into health care.


Jessilyn Dunn

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Developing new tools and infrastructure for multi-modal biomedical data integration to drive precision/personalized methods for early detection, intervention, and prevention of disease.

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