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A Smartwatch App to Tackle Long Covid

Researchers from the University of Zurich have been honoured with the UZH Postdoc Team Award for developing an innovative smartwatch application and companion app called MindfulPacer to help Long Covid sufferers manage their symptoms.

The researchers, André Meyer-Baron and Carlo Cervia-Hasler, met at a DIZH networking event in November 2022 and realised that their scientific knowledge and interests were an ideal match.

The two winners of the Postdoc Team Award and developers of MindfulPacer: Carlo Cervia-Hasler and André Meyer-Baron (Image: Nathalie Huber)

In Switzerland, around 200,000 people suffer from Long Covid, and as there is no drug therapy, many patients rely on the strategy of activity pacing to control their symptoms. They plan their physical activities precisely to avoid overexertion.

As there were previously no effective digital tools to support activity pacing, the researchers developed MindfulPacer. The platform comprises a smartwatch application that monitors heart rate and step count, as well as a companion app on the smartphone. The app visualises biometric data and allows users to set personal limits. If these limits are approached or exceeded, the smartwatch provides feedback and an alarm sounds.

MindfulPacer is currently in the prototype phase and is being tested. The researchers are planning to make the platform publicly available and are evaluating its user-friendliness and effectiveness in practice. They emphasise that their main aim is to make a positive contribution for as many people as possible and to further develop MindfulPacer together with them.

Step count and heart rate are visualized on the companion app and additional data can be recorded.

The research prototype is now to be made publicly accessible. In collaboration with the Long Covid Association Switzerland, the development of a self-supporting online platform is planned. This is intended to promote the adaptation and exchange of pacing strategies and research.

The project is being funded as part of the 1st outreach call in the DIZH innovation programme.