List: 5 wearable technologies to help in COVID-19 fight

From watches and rings to a smart helmet, wearable technology is being deployed to help mitigate the spread of the pandemic

Last Updated:
June 30, 2020 - 7:07pm

Innovation in wearable technology to assist in the coronavirus fight is developing alongside the ever-changing  pandemic.

Many of the new devices hitting the global market use electronic sensors to collect health information from the wearer or act as an early warning device to signal if a patient may be carrying the virus before they show any symptoms. They can also be used to detect or log people’s proximity to one another to help enforce social distancing.

The data collected can assist in maintaining social distancing and give businesses a way to limit liability for employees and customers.  However, some raise privacy concerns.  

As an example, the NBA is hoping to restart its season July 30 with the help of a device called the Oura titanium ring that collects temperature, pulse and respiratory rates of players to help to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. But team staff reportedly won’t have access to the health data unless a player has a high enough score to trigger intervention from a doctor.

Yet, as states and countries look for ways to re-open their economies, some say these devices will help get people back to work faster.  Here are just a few:

PULSE: NASA has developed a 3D-printed pendant to help prevent people from touching their face. PULSE, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, vibrates if a person raises their hand close to their face, and vibrates stronger the closer the hand gets. NASA is not selling PULSE, rather it is giving anyone interested in making one the blueprint.

“PULSE is a simple and affordable technology that can easily be reproduced by anyone regardless of their level of expertise,” according to a statement on the website. “We hope individuals or companies will replicate, refine or enhance PULSE and make it easily available for distribution.”

FitBit: The company that makes smart activity trackers is developing one for the office. Called Ready For Work, the service lets employees gather key health metrics and track self-reported symptoms to help determine if they're ready to return to work. The service logs temperature, heart rate, heart rate variability and breathing. Employers can also track their employees’ health status and determine whether or not they should come into work.

Oura: The Finnish company Oura has an existing titanium fitness tracking ring that is now being used to track coronavirus symptoms. The smart ring tracks temperature, pulse and respiratory rate. The company has partnered with the University of California to research further the early detection of coronavirus symptoms. NBA players will also be sporting the ring to kick off the start of the season, which is currently set to begin on July 30.

TraceTogether: The Singapore government has developed an internet-free alternative to its tracing TraceTogether app. The elderly and those who do not have access to cell phones can carry an electronic token to help warn someone when they have come into contact with a person that has possibly tested positive for COVID-19.  The token uses Bluetooth to exchange information with other TraceTogether tokens and the app on other people's phones.

KC Wearable: Around 35 countries are using a smart helmet designed by KC Wearable, a Chinese-based tech company, to help detect coronavirus symptoms. The KC N901 Smart Helmet, deployed to police officers and first responders, can measure temperatures of people in real-time and can analyze the health of individuals and groups of people at a safe distance. It can also scan QR codes to file personal information into a database, recognize license plates, engage in night vision and recognize faces of people and present their personal information on the augmented reality display.


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