Scientists around the world are hard at work trying to develop a COVID-19 vaccine while at the same time attempting to improve testing for the virus. Alongside those efforts, we could soon all be wearing a patch to monitor body temperature in a bid to detect infection as early as possible.
As Reuters reports, a group of companies have come together to develop a wearable patch containing a chip tasked with constantly monitoring our body temperature for signs of elevation. The patch will be wirelessly connected to the smartphone we all carry around allowing the wearer to be informed as soon as the first signs of infection arise.
The patch is the work of New York investment firm Asymmetric Return Captial, software developer SensiML, and home health care company Upward Health. The chip is being designed by Linear ASICs and will be manufactured in Minnesota by SkyWalker Technology.
SensiML is involved as part of a wider effort to use its artificial intelligence tools to help detect symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Chris Rogers, SensiML CEO, commented, “There is tremendous need for better pre-diagnostic screening tools as return-to-work measures are put into place across the US and worldwide. The entire SensiML team is excited by the prospect that our edge AI technology can potentially make a positive contribution to the global efforts to combat this pandemic.” The company is also working on a project to crowdsource cough sounds in a bid to identify unique cough patterns associated with the disease. The resulting dataset will then be released as open source for researchers to take advantage of.
The aim of all companies involved is to allow the patch to be mass-produced as soon as possible, with Bryan Wisk, a founding partner at Asymmetric Return Capital, explaining that having access to the patch, “will be especially important as we head into flu season later this year.”
Convincing people to wear the patch will come down to the costs involved, how well it is proven to work, and as with the contact-tracing apps, that user privacy can be maintained regarding the data the patch collects over time.