Have you ever thought of a high-tech way of knowing whether you have been in contact with a person who has tested positive with COVID-19?
Thankfully, two of the great tech companies will be teaming up in a major effort to help stop the spread of the virus.
Last week, Google and Apple have announced that they are developing a technology called contact-tracing. This uses signals from people’s phones to warn them if they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus.
And regardless of which operating system are you on, you can definitely take advantage of the said technology.
Google, Apple developing a contact-tracing technology
What is contact-tracing?
In a disease outbreak like the COVID-19, one of the tools health experts have deemed best is to locate every sick person and find the people that they have interacted with.
It is kinda an old-school way but is definitely effective in times like this.
Tech giants such as Google and Apple are teaming up to develop this kind of way of using technology.
How does the technology work?
Basically, the proposed contact-tracing tech will use the smartphones’ Bluetooth to track a person’s location as well as those who have been in contact with them.
For example, if someone has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive, the tech will then tell the user they have been exposed to the virus and would tell them what to do next.
The system will be able to record when registered users have been within a few feet of each other for up to 10 minutes.
Persons who want to report themselves as COVID-19 positive will need their results verified before they are included for analysis, according to the tech companies.
In addition, the joint project takes advantage of the two most popular operating systems in the world – iOS and Android. And this could potentially reach billions of people across the globe.
Now, that is one way of stopping the spread of the virus, don’t you think?
The technology Google and Apple developed is on the way…
Aside from building the technology into their respective mobile operating systems, the tech companies also made sure that the technology will be in support of apps built by public health authorities.
Once it is already part of the operating system, tracking could then be easier. All users need to do is to update their smartphones to the latest version of their OS.
Now, that is one of the hiccups in this industry…
Because there is only one phone manufacturer involved, rolling out OS updates on the iOS is relatively simple. But even so, Apple can’t be sure if all their users are on the most recent version of the iOS.
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Unfortunately, that is not the case with Android. Pushing out updates to Android is notoriously challenging.
But why is this so?
One of the main reasons is that Android operates on devices made by a variety of manufacturers. These manufacturers have yet to test out the update on their smartphones to make sure it works.
This cumbersome process that is known as fragmentation is when Android users are running different versions of the OS with varying capabilities.
Initially, the tech companies will start releasing updates this May. More information will be clarified in a joint briefing this Monday.
What are the problems detected?
Well, there is not really an on-going technology without a few problems encountered along the way.
One of the issues: privacy.
Some experts have even pointed out that spoofing and false positives were some of the legitimate concerns. This could potentially overwhelm and even crowd local hospitals.
That’s why verifying test results would help prevent people from abusing the tool that is meant to be useful in fighting this pandemic.
Most importantly, both tech companies have sworn that no names and locations would be shared or stored to protect the users’ privacy.
Until this technology is officially released, all we can do is to stay at home (if possible) and wash our hands regularly.
And did you know that our gadgets are also flocked germs and viruses? That’s why it is important to keep our laptops, tablets, and smartphones clean.
You can use your good-old cleaning kits or perhaps one of the UV light sanitizing machines.