Reach extended for COVID-19 exposure notification systems

19-08-2020 | Bluetooth SIG | New Technologies

The Bluetooth SIG stated that work is underway to produce a specification that will allow wearable devices to engage in an existing smartphone-based Exposure Notification System (ENS). By increasing an ENS to incorporate wearables, such as wristbands, it can better address population groups where smartphone usage continues to be low, including children in primary school and older adults residing in care facilities. An initial draft of the specification is anticipated to be released and available for review within the next few months.

Generally deployed by government health agencies, all public ENSs to date have used Bluetooth technology already installed in smartphones to inform people when they have been in close contact with a person who was later diagnosed with COVID-19. Due to their widespread adoption, smartphones serve as an ideal foundation for launching an ENS. However, smartphones alone are not a practical method to cover all segments of the population.

“There are several population groups critical to managing the spread of diseases like COVID-19 with relatively low smartphone penetration, presenting a coverage challenge for smartphone-based Exposure Notification Systems,” said Elisa Resconi, a professor at the Technical University of Munich leading research on the spread of COVID-19. “We believe including wearable devices in an ENS would be a very effective method for extending its reach to support these important groups.”

“It is incredibly inspiring to see the Bluetooth community’s collaboration in finding and creating innovative ways to leverage Bluetooth technology to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Powell, CEO of the Bluetooth SIG. “We are grateful for the dedication and commitment of the Bluetooth members and proud of their work on this important effort.”