Singapore to launch wearable device for coronavirus contact tracing soon

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As of June 4, Singapore has confirmed 36,922 coronavirus cases.


Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images

Singapore announced on Friday that it plans to launch a wearable device to help with coronavirus contact tracing. It could be rolled out to the state’s 5.7 million residents if it proves to be effective, according to local media.

“We are developing and will soon roll out a portable wearable device that will… not depend on possession of a smartphone,” Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan told parliament. “I believe this will be more inclusive, and it will ensure that all of us will be protected.”

The new wearable device is Singapore’s attempt at a supplemental contact tracing method and comes as the city-state grapples with one of the highest caseloads in Asia after being lauded for its “gold standard” response in the early stages of the pandemic. The device can be kept in a handbag or worn at the end of a lanyard, Balakrishnan said in an interview with Sky News Australia in May. 

Singapore released one of the first nationwide contact tracing apps, called TraceTogether, in March. The app uses Bluetooth signals to help authorities identify which people have been exposed to patients infected with the coronavirus. But it was not widely downloaded by Singaporeans and doesn’t work as well on Apple or iOS devices, which suspend Bluetooth when the app is running in the background.  The island nation has also deployed robot dogs, developed by Boston Dynamics, at a local park to remind visitors to practice proper social distancing.

As of Thursday, Singapore confirmed a total of 36,922 coronavirus cases.

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