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What Will It Be Able to Find?

With its Baseline Project, Verily hopes to determine what a generally healthy person looks like by collecting genetic data, blood samples, imaging, and more from some 10,000 people over time. But New Scientist wonders whether this ambitious project will actually be able to do so.

Verily's project has been likened to other large-scale, longitudinal studies like the Framingham Heart Study. But rather than just survey participants — as self-reporting can be unreliable — Verily also plans to use a smart watch to gauge participants' lifestyle factors, it says. New Scientist, though, notes that Verily might be misplacing its trust in technology as many people who purchased fitness trackers stop wearing them within six months. "[C]an 10,000 people really be relied on to use a smart watch and sleep tracker every day for that period? To consistently keep their device charged?" it asks.

New Scientist also notes that the Baseline Project has a rather vague goal, and that the US National Children's study, which was to follow 100,000 children for 21 years, ended in confusion over its goals.

"Given how much data Verily will be collecting, without having a specific research question or starting point on what to look for, this could turn out to be a needle-in-a-haystack exercise," it adds.

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