A wristwatch helps with contact tracing

Published On April 24, 2021 | By Nathan Christian | Business, COVID-19, Politics, Sci/Tech

The Ontario government announced it will provide funds to a Scarborough-based tech company to expand its capacity to make a watch-like device to scan for COVID-19.

Facedrive Inc., a technology company that manufactures the wearable device, alerts users if they have been in close contact with those who have tested positive of COVID-19.

The provincial government will provide the company with $2.5 million it received in February to accelerate the production of the wearable device, called TraceSCAN.

TraceSCAN device on the hand.

TraceSCAN device on the wrist. The Ontario government will help fund a Scarborough-based tech company expand its capacity to make a watch-like device to scan for COVID-19. Photo credit: Screen capture from TraceSCAN website

The company will produce nearly 150,000 devices after receiving the funds.

“Through the Ontario Together Fund, we will continue to make sure that companies like Facedrive have the resources they need to supply emergency products and innovative solutions during these challenging times while creating skilled jobs for our province,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

TraceSCAN is designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in places where mobile phones aren’t allowed to use or have a very limited scope to use. Such as schools, colleges, construction areas, airlines, and long-term facilities.

“My door is always open to new and innovative solutions to help keep workers safe during COVID-19,” said Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

Contact tracing technology has the ability to protect essential workers and the province needs made-in-Ontario solutions so workers can be kept safe, he said.

Some of the major businesses and organizations that adopted TraceSCAN include Air Canada, LiUNA, and Waywayseecappo First Nation.

The device, like a smartwatch, tracks a person’s exposure to COVID-19 without using GPS data or information. If users are closer than six feet to someone, the device will alert them by beeps.

If any individual has tested positive with COVID-19, officials of that particular firm or organization will receive an online report through a dashboard.

“We are looking forward to working side by side with government institutions in our joint mission to create safe environments for our communities, restart our economy and get workers back on the job” Sayan Navaratnam, chairman and CEO of Facedrive said.

Hazel Paul, a facility manager in Toronto, believes the innovation could restart workspaces currently operating remotely.

“I really bored working from home,” Paul said. She misses the corporate atmosphere of working in person.

However, she added TraceSCAN only alerts the users of those exposed, but is not effective after if someone gets infected.

“It’s of no point what if I come across with some tested positive which have not recorded on online dashboard data,” she said.

The provincial funding opens doors to 68 new jobs that include firmware, software developers, hardware engineers, and also specialists of machine learning.

“Through the Ontario Together Fund, we will continue to make sure that companies like Facedrive have the resources they need to supply emergency products and innovative solutions during these challenging times while creating skilled jobs for our province.” Vic Fedeli said.

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