Large-scale Training of Foundation Models for Wearable Biosignals

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Tracking biosignals is crucial for monitoring wellness and preempting the development of severe medical conditions. Today, wearable devices can conveniently record various biosignals, creating the opportunity to monitor health status without disruption to one’s daily routine. Despite the widespread use of wearable devices and existing digital biomarkers, the absence of curated data with annotated medical labels hinders the development of new biomarkers to measure common health conditions. In fact, medical datasets are usually small in comparison to other domains, which is an obstacle for developing neural network models for biosignals. To address this challenge, we have employed self-supervised learning using the unlabeled sensor data collected under informed consent from the large longitudinal Apple Heart and Movement Study (AHMS) to train foundation models for two common biosignals: photoplethysmography (PPG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) recorded on Apple Watch. We curated PPG and ECG datasets from AHMS that include data from ~141K participants spanning ~3 years. Our self-supervised learning framework includes participant-level positive pair selection, stochastic augmentation module and a regularized contrastive loss optimized with momentum training, and generalizes well to both PPG and ECG modalities. We show that the pre-trained foundation models readily encode information regarding participants’ demographics and health conditions. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that builds foundation models using large-scale PPG and ECG data collected via wearable consumer devices; prior works have commonly used smaller-size datasets collected in clinical and experimental settings. We believe PPG and ECG foundation models can enhance future wearable devices by reducing the reliance on labeled data and hold the potential to help the users improve their health.

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