The Ontario government has announced plans to invest in wearable contact tracing technology to help protect workers.
In a press release, the provincial government said it would invest $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund to Facedrive Inc. to accelerate the deployment of its wearable contact tracing technology, ‘TraceSCAN.’
The Ontario Together Fund includes $50 million the government can use to support retooling or adopting new technologies to produce supplies and equipment for the health care sector. You can learn more about it here.
TraceSCAN can help alert users in a workplace if they’ve been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Facedrive expects to manufacture about 150,000 devices for the project. Additionally, the company anticipates it will create 68 new jobs, including software, firmware and hardware engineers, and machine learning specialists.
“In our fight against COVID-19, Ontario is continuing to support companies like Facedrive that are developing the innovative technology that adds new layers of defence against this global pandemic,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade.
Facedrive developed TraceSCAN, which uses “made-in-Ontario” AI solutions to track staff exposure to COVID-19 without using GPS information. Facedrive worked with the University of Waterloo to develop the technology.
Workers can wear a device that uses TraceSCAN tech to communicate with other nearby devices in the workplace. The device will beep if wearers are less than six feet apart. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the company’s HR or health and safety departments can view the online reporting dashboard and see who the infected individual came into contact with, check risk levels and issue exposure notifications.
Facedrive says TraceSCAN can help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces where smartphone uses is limited or prohibited. Additionally, the tech has already been deployed in several pilot projects, including at Air Canada, LiUNA and Waywayseecappo First Nation.
It’s worth noting that Facedrive isn’t the first Canadian company to come up with a wearable COVID-19 contact tracing solution. Quebec-based regional carrier Vidéotron launched a similar wristband last year, which can warn wearers if they get too close to each other.
While these types of wearable contact tracing devices could prove helpful for some businesses, it seems like a band-aid solution for a larger problem. The best way to help people and small businesses get back to normal is to beat COVID. That means prioritizing things like vaccine distribution, mandating paid sick leave and providing clear quarantine and lockdown rules, all of which will go a long way to reducing or stopping the spread of COVID-19 entirely.
Image credit: Facedrive