NASA astronauts prepping for a space mission are about to get a new gadget thanks to a deal between the agency and Fitbit.
The two inked a deal in order to provide a Fitbit devices to 1,000 NASA employees—including 150 astronauts, in order for the workforce to make more informed decisions about going to work onsite during COVID-19.
With the deal, which is part of Fitbit’s Ready for Work program, users will get Fitbit Charge 4 devices and access to the Work Daily Check-In platform.
According to the partners, the initiative will fit into the NASA Health Stabilization Program, which aims to curb the risk of infection for astronauts before taking off on a mission. Employees enrolled can use the daily check-in form to log symptoms and temperature.
WHY IT MATTERS
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Johns Hopkins' coronavirus-tracking map has recorded over 107 million cases of the disease globally, leading to more than 2.3 million deaths. Today, many workplaces and other organizations have turned to tech to try to curb the spread of the virus.
This partnership is born out of those efforts. In December, npj Digital Medicine published findings from Fitbit demonstrating the consumer wearables could be key to predicting the onset of illness like COVID-19 by using health metrics like breathing rate, resting heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV).
“The pandemic has underscored the critical role that Fitbit can play in providing much-needed support to help people sleep better, eat better, move more and take control of their health and wellness, as well as the potential to identify illness from specific health metrics, which is especially important now during the COVID-19 crisis,” Amy McDonough, managing director and general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions at Google, said in a statement.
“We are proud to work with NASA to support its employees and give them access to Fitbit products and services to help them better understand and manage their health and well-being during the pandemic.”
THE LARGER TREND
Astronauts are often some of the first to test-drive new technologies. Currently NASA is using all different forms of digital health, including telemedicine, virtual reality and augmented reality. Historically, lessons learned by the agency have then gone on to inform health around the world.
Meanwhile Fitbit, which as of mid-January is now part of Google, has been working on COVID-19-related initiatives for some time. In June, it announced its Ready for Work product, which is made up of a daily health check-in for employees and an analytics dashboard for employers.