How personal tech and wearable brands are helping fight COVID-19

Humanity might be waiting for a vaccine to deal with the Coronavirus epidemic, and till that happens, it’s a matter of slowing down the virus’ spread and improving patient outcomes. But there’s no reason for these efforts to be restricted to the pharmaceutical industry; even the personal technology industry is at work dreaming up new ways to help us adapt to what’s being described as the ‘new normal’. For example, you can buy self-sanitizing masks and even wearables that warn you if you’re standing too close to someone. Here are some more efforts on this front:

Fitbit’s trying to see if wearables can help with diagnosis, launched ventilator

fitbit flow stand

Fitbit has joined forces with The Scripps Research Institute and Stanford Medicine to see if wearables could provide early detection of COVID-19 as it’s quite possible that changes in vital signs (such as your heart rate) and activity trends could help alert users to the possibility they might be infected. Don’t look surprised; according to Dr. Eric Topol, Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, “From our previously published work, we know that data collected from consumer wearables can significantly improve the prediction of influenza-like illness.” 

Fitbit has also turned its electronics and product design expertise towards building a new emergency ventilator, which has even been granted FDA approval. The Fitbit Flow combines resuscitator bags with hardware to support automatic use and patent monitoring, and while it might not replace ventilators in hospitals, it might make it easier for governments to outfit emergency services and field hospitals with lifesaving equipment.

Google has a new AR app to help with social distancing

Google Sodar Social Distancing App

Google is doing its bit to help social distancing through a new web app (it works in your browser). Sodar (a portmanteau of ‘social’ and ‘radar’ we assume) doesn’t require any fancy hardware. Just fire up the web page, and the app will show you a circle of danger (so to speak) at a distance of two metres.

Huawei is selling a phone with an inbuilt infrared thermometer

Huawei’s newly launched Honor Play 4 Pro comes in a variant that offers an infrared thermometer. This should help provide an easy, no-contact way of checking yourself or any contacts of yours for elevated body temperature (one of the signs of infection). While it won’t tell you why someone has fever, it might be a useful tool for someone who interacts with a lot of people every day. Apart from the thermometer, the Play 4 Pro is a pretty standard mid-premium device, with a Kirin 990 processor, 5G, a 40MP main camera, a 3X optical zoom, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, and a 6.67 inch FHD+ display.

This Philips biosensor could medical staff monitor patients

Philips isn’t just a maker of electric razors and home audio gear – it’s got a finger in nearly every electronics pie out there. And one of these happens to be medical gear. Now, its Biosensor BX100 wearable has received FDA approvals for tracking patient health at home and in hospitals. The BX100 measures vital signs as well as patient posture and activity levels, and could save lives by alerting medical staff to any sudden deterioration in patient  health. The information is stored onboard and can be synced to hospital networks via the Philips Intellivue Guardian patient monitoring and scoring system

Samsung’s launched a hand-wash app

Yes, you can hold off on all the jokes about folks who think an app can solve every problem out there. Samsung really has launched a new app to help you wash hands more frequently and effectively. You’ll need a Samsung wearable to install this and once it’s up and running, it’ll send out alerts to remind you that it’s time to wash your hands, and while you’re doing so, it’ll also run a countdown to keep you from taking any shortcuts!

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