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Can biometric wearables capitalize on worries over machine vision for COVID-19 detection?

Can biometric wearables capitalize on worries over machine vision for COVID-19 detection?

Just as concerns and skepticism grow about systems using facial recognition as a tool to help spot fevers in a crowd, more medical wearables research and biometric products are coming to light.

Privacy worries have cast a pall over machine vision options, and that could push more investors to wearables. There is a catch, of course. Much if not most of the new wearable technology also poses perceived privacy, security and government-overreach threats.

Indeed, a recent New York Times article spotlights makers of wearable devices who promise to address COVID-19 detection and tracking. The products could also be used to invade one’s privacy, track activities unrelated to the disease or serve up personal data to cybercriminals.

BioIntelliSense, which makes the adhesive-backed BioButton, is supplying devices to Oakland University, in Michigan. They record skin temperatures once a minute (although temperature is now considered an unreliable signal).

Germany-based Kinexon is working with the University of Tennessee with a wearable device that, until the pandemic, had only monitored performance metrics like speed. The new product, called the SafeZone, alerts wearers when they are within six feet of another SafeZone wearer.

According to the Times article, the National Football League requires staff and players to wear the SafeZone.

A pair of research projects also have a COVID-19 profile, too.

A team at the University of Colorado Boulder says it has created a sensor-impregnated film that is stuck onto skin to record body temperature. It is an idea that has been around for some time, but the school is pushing the material’s ability to heal tears in its substrate.

Another team, this one with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, has applied for a patent on a manufacturing process for sandwiching printed circuits within porous and flexible films. The films are actually vat-grown nanocellulose printed-circuit boards with electroless plating of metallic wires.

Med-tech Maxim Integrated Products is making the most of the current need to react rapidly to the changing coronavirus environment. It makes the Health Sensor Platform 3, a wrist wearable monitor that can watch many metrics, including heart rate (which, over time, is a better signal when diagnosing COVID-19).

Maxim says that companies designing products based on its device can “start collecting data immediately, saving at least six months” over similar scratch-built devices.

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