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Your wearables can soon help contact trace coronavirus outbreaks

Wearable devices connected to Bluetooth will soon be apart of an exposure notification system (ENS) and notify users if they have been exposed to someone who later tests positive for the coronavirus, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).

All public systems to date use Bluetooth technology already included in smartphones to accomplish contact tracing, the public health method of tracking who has been in contact with someone who tests positive for an infectious disease.

While the ENS is a pre-existing network, developers hope that adding wearables into the program will allow for a larger network of participants, especially higher-risk groups with low smartphone usages, such as children and older adults.

The network is still under development, but public specifications are expected in the next few months, according to SIG.

“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. We believe including wearable devices in an ENS would be a very effective method for extending its reach to support these important groups,” said Elisa Resconi, a professor at the Technical University of Munich.

To help develop the ENS, over 130 Bluetooth member companies have partnered with SIG to increase the available network while standardizing device support and privacy protections.

Data systems like the ENS are considered extremely important in controlling the spread of coronavirus, as the data and information provided in smartphones and wearables can help with contract tracing exposed individuals.

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