Ontario investing $2.5M in wearable tracing tech that will beep or vibrate if people aren’t six feet apart
A screenshot of TraceSCAN, a wearable contact tracing technology, is seen in a video posted to social media by the Ontario government. (@VictorFedeli)
TORONTO -- The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million in wearable contact tracing technology that will alert users if they may have been exposed to the COVID-19 in the workplace and will beep or vibrate if they are within six feet of another person.
In a news release issued on Thursday, the government said it is providing Facedrive Inc., a technology company founded in 2016, with the funding through the Ontario Together Fund.
The money will be put towards the deployment of TraceSCAN—a wearable tracing technology for people who work or spend time in facilities where smartphone use—and therefore access to the COVID Alert app—is limited. This can include places such as airlines, schools, construction sites and long-term care homes.
Facedrive Inc. anticipates manufacturing about 150,000 devices and creating 68 new jobs in the province as a result, the Ontario government said in their release.
According to the province, the technology will be able to track staff exposure without using GPS information.
“Workers simply wear the device and the wearable technology will communicate with others within a workplace environment,” the release said. “If anyone in the working premises reports COVID-19 positive, HR or health and safety officials can log in to the online reporting dashboard and see who they have been in contact with and their risk level, then send an exposure notification. Contact tracing will be made simple with all of the close proximity contact having been recorded.”
The device will also either beep or vibrate at users who are less than six feet apart.
A spokesperson for Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli’s office said that “the Ministry’s support is intended to help commercialize the product and enter the market,” meaning that it will be up to each individual company or school board to determine if they will purchase the product for use.
The technology is supplementary to the COVID Alert app, which uses Bluetooth technology to notify other users if they have come in contact with someone who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It will also allow users to contact their local public health unit by submitting a form through the app.
The app, however, is dependent on residents who test positive for COVID-19 inputting a code provided to them by public health officials. Back in October, CTV News noted that some Canadians never received a “one-time key” to enter their test results into the app.