More and more tech companies are stepping up to fight the coronavirus, from wearable’s to contact tracing to developing at-home kits. These inventions do not replace safety precautions no are they intended to be a fix-all. But technology can make a difference in combating the virus spread. Apple and Google are teaming up to build a contact tracing feature for their phones, which would use Bluetooth to track physical proximity between phones and hence their users.
This would all be on an opt-in basis so, if you’re one of the users who tested positive for COVID-19 you could report it through the app and then users who are in recent contact with you would get a notification. For your screen concerns of privacy and practicality, the tech giants are working on that with a beta version available for developers now.
Besides contact tracing, Apple is also offering resources to screen your symptoms through its website. But if you’re not in the Apple ecosystem and owned an Amazon Alexa product. You can also ask the voice assistant to play a song for 20 seconds while you wash your hands. You get the point along with the collection of screening services there’s also been a rise in maps and dashboards.
Facebook released a map of people in the United States who have reported COVID-19 symptoms. The data is from surveying more than a million anonymous participants and the map breaks it down by each county. Facebook and Google also developed mobility dashboards it’s showing how the movement has changed in places like supermarkets and transit stations.
Wearables have also become popular for earlier health detection, more than 2000 health care workers at the University of California San Francisco campus have received an Oura smart ring. This ring has the technology to track changes in body temperature, heart rate, and sleep. The goal is to identify frontline health care professionals who may be infected before they become symptomatic. Eventually, researchers hope together enough data to develop an algorithm for COVID-19 detection.
Artificial intelligence is also assisting frontline healthcare workers. Technology joint Alibaba is using AI to speed up the process of analyzing CT scans, this process normally takes up to 15 minutes. Alibaba says the AI shortens it to a max of about 10 seconds and in mid-march said it had already analyzed over 240,000 CT scans while maintaining a 965 accuracy rate.
This technology has been tested in hospitals in China and Alibaba hopes to expand its usage to Europe. 23andMe is also conducting research on its own. A genetic study, of course, its goal is to obtain over 1 million responses and analyze genetic factors that might be associated with COVID-19. To understand why some experience more severe symptoms than others.
The research will also consider non-genetic factors like age, obesity, pregnancy, and prior exposure. Other tests that will slowly come to the market are at-home kits. Every well has been doing at home kits for many health concerns from fertility tests, allergy tests, HIV tests, etc. Its latest COVID-19 at-home test is not yet available to the general public. But it is working with the FDA to meet guidelines and is offering bulk order options to hospitals and health care providers.
The way these at-home tests would work is you take an online questionnaire to see if you qualify to receive a kit. Once approved this kit will be mailed to you within 48 hours of the lab getting your sample you’ll get your results digitally. If the results are positive there’s telehealth available to inform you on the next steps. There are many more companies making big and small steps to fight COVID-19 and we will continue to see more in the future.