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How IoT can help fight COVID-19 battle

The world is fighting with novel coronavirus, healthcare officials are working tirelessly to provide the best facilities to prevent citizens from infection and to save those who are already infected. In such a scenario, technology innovation are steadily making a difference to healthcare systems. Countries are mustering all resources at their disposal and deploying cutting-edge technology to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and profile people at risk.

Internet of Things (IoT), in particular, and along with other technologies like Cloud and AI, is of great use during the crisis. According to a study by researchers at MIT, overlaying geographic information system (GIS) on IoT mobile data can assist epidemiologists in their search for patient zero and can help identify all the people who have come into contact with the infected patients. The technology can also be helpful in monitoring patients who are high-risk and hence can be a source of information to healthcare staff to take adequate action.

Let’s have a look at some of the example where IoT is being used to monitor the pandemic.

Connected thermometers

Connected thermometers are being used by hospitals to screen patients and staff. Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center (SPHCC) along with seven other hospitals throughout China are currently using continuous temperature sensors to monitor COVID-19 patients to reduce the risks of hospital staffs. This device has been built by California-based connected health startup VivaLNK’s.

VivaLNK’s body temperature sensors provide continuous, real-time monitoring of any changes in body temperature. This uses IoT Access Controller by Cassia to receive real-time patient data from the sensors and wirelessly transmit this data to a nurse’s station for continuous monitoring. This gateway allow up to 40 Bluetooth Low Energy devices to be paired and connected simultaneously while providing the long-range connectivity needed to cover multiple rooms in the SPHCC. Apart from this Kinsa Health has used data gathered from its over one million connected thermometers to produce daily maps showing which US counties are seeing an increase in high fevers.

Smart Wearable

Researchers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia have designing sensorized suits that can monitor human body parameters. The smartband alert users when their body temperature is higher than 37.5 degrees. While reading the movement of the human body, The smartband releases radio signals from which the distance from another bracelet can be retrieved; when two smartbands are in proximity, they vibrate, thus emitting an alert signal that helps people respect social distancing. The frequency of the radio signal is 2.45 GHz, the same of Bluetooth, but IIT developed a proprietary protocol for an easier and faster detection of human proximities. Therefore, a future development of the smartband can devise mobile apps that communicate with the bracelet using classical Bluetooth.

In China people are using bracelets and rings synced with an AI platform from CloudMinds to provide constant monitoring of vital signs, including temperature, heart rate and blood oxygen levels. Hong Kong on the other hand  is using electronic tracker wristbands to alert authorities when individuals specifically those recently arrived from international destinations do not comply with compulsory home quarantines.

IoT Buttons

Smart IoT Buttons by Visionstate

Visionstate designed its first Internet of Things buttons which is being used by hospitals in Vancouver. The buttons are called Wanda QuickTouch that addresses the need for rapid deployment in a facility of any size. The IoT buttons send instant alerts to management advising of any cleaning or maintenance issues that may pose risks to public safety. The technology enables facility managers to track alerts and staff response times, as well as monitor regular cleaning activities in the high-traffic areas. The button monitor alerts issued by staff or the general public and can be adhered to any surface and requires no infrastructure to operate. The IoT buttons are battery operated and automatically connect to the LTE-M network and can be used in patient rooms, nursing stations, restrooms, or common areas. The buttons can be used in conjunction with Visionstate’s new Wanda mobile app, which provides facility managers with the ability to track cleaning and maintenance activities throughout a facility.

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