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Combating COVID-19 with BLE Technology

Telink Staff

March 25, 2020

Technology

The Hong Kong Skyline

A new suite of pandemic management products is utilizing Telink’s BLE SoC solutions to help governments stem the spread of COVID-19.

Wearable devices have come a long way since the early days of the FitBit. According to an IDC report, the global market for wearable devices grew an astounding 82.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019. While hearables accounted for most of this growth, devices like watches and wristbands also saw significant gains in popularity.

As the world has scrambled for ways to stem the spread of COVID-19, we have seen an unexpected new use case for wearable devices emerge: pandemic management. For instance, in Hong Kong, the government has adopted a tech-first approach to pandemic management. Since February, the government has been putting recent arrivals to the special administrative region under home quarantine and medical surveillance for a span of two weeks.

As part of this policy, visitors and returning citizens are required to wear electronic wristbands that monitor their location and offer quarantine support. Designed by WiSilica using Telink’s SoC solutions for BLE, the TRACEsafe iMSafe electronic wristband delivers continuous location management capabilities. When activated, the electronic wristband pairs with smartphones via the BLE protocol, enabling users and administrators to manage locations and regular check-ins through easy-to-use dashboards.

How the iMSafe Electronic Wristband Works

iMSafe disposable wristbands are part of a suite of TRACEsafe pandemic management solutions, and exemplify the growing range of applications for BLE SoC solutions in the health and safety space.

As part of a self-quarantine monitoring system, iMSafe electronic wristbands enable individuals to isolate in their own homes while ensuring that public health mandates are being followed. An administrator assigns every visitor or returning citizen an electronic wristband upon their arrival. The user will then be instructed to download the iMSafe app or use a preinstalled app to scan the unique QR code attached to their wristband.

Once the user scans the QR code, the wristband pairs with their smartphone and uses GPS capabilities to offer continuous location monitoring. The wristband logs location and time stamps to an application in the cloud and issues notifications and alerts when necessary. Both the user and government administrators can actively monitor location and time logs by accessing the corresponding app. This way, administrators can be notified in the event a quarantine order is breached or a user requires medical assistance. In order to ensure that quarantine measures are effective, the iMSafe wristband is designed to prevent tampering, and will issue an alert to both the user and government administrators if a device is compromised in any way.

Visualization of how iMSafe works

Like other popular wearable devices, iMSafe electronic wristbands play to the strengths of BLE technology. BLE protocols integrate easily with cellular devices, offering consistent, high-quality performance and low energy consumption, prolonging battery life to ensure that individuals under quarantine stay connected for longer. By integrating with cloud applications, iMSafe wristbands help users manage their location via a smartphone interface, though, in an effort to protect users’ privacy, the devices do not collect personal data.

The Future of BLE SoC Solutions

To manage the health and safety of an increasingly connected public, governments around the world need IoT devices that offer simple, reliable smartphone pairing while remaining both cost-effective and energy-efficient. Beyond pandemic management, new IoT devices can be used to respond to health and safety needs more broadly. Cellular networks connect us globally, and wearable devices that leverage these networks will slot seamlessly into a variety of environmental and energy management contexts (among others).

As the market for wearable devices continues to expand, the number of IoT developers and manufacturers is likely to climb, as well. In this rapidly growing, increasingly competitive market, selecting the right SoC solutions will make all the difference. Telink offers SoC solutions with multiprotocol and BLE connectivity, facilitating a wide range of IoT use cases related to real-time positioning, remote control, human-centric lighting, and more. Telink also offers comprehensive developer support for companies creating IoT devices of any kind.

Learn more about Telink’s TLSR825x and TLSR827x series.