Wearable device allows for real-time COVID-19 monitoring and contact tracing in extended care facilities

AI-powered bracelet developed by UAlberta computing scientists will aid caregivers and healthcare providers protect the most vulnerable.

Katie Willis - 14 October 2020

A new bracelet that provides real-time symptom monitoring and contact tracing is the latest technology to bring artificial intelligence (AI) into the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The bracelet, co-developed by scientists in the University of Alberta’s Department of Computing Science, detects and monitors vital signs including temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, and oxygen level. 

“The fatality rate due to COVID-19 is high in extended care facilities, in part because residents often lack mobility and need care,” said Irene Cheng, project lead and director of the Multimedia Masters Program. “This bracelet will detect vital signs and generate alerts that are sent to both the wearer and a caregiver so that a health-care provider can intervene. This device will give the wearers and caregivers peace of mind and thus improve the quality of life.” 

Cheng is leading a team of UAlberta graduate students, Naimur Rahman Jeem, Jianfei Ma, and Yizhou Zhao, who are developing AI algorithms that the bracelet will use for data analysis. The UAlberta team is also collaborating with McGill University and Montreal-based medical device company iMD Research on the project. 

The system can also be used to support contact tracing efforts. 

“Paired with a smartphone app, the bracelet can be used to track the movements and record the date, time, and location information,” explained Cheng. “If one user is COVID-19 positive, our AI algorithms will be able to trace other users in contact in the last 14 days.”

The tool will also be useful for developing our understanding of how COVID-19 affects vital signs over time. “By analyzing the patterns and understanding how the vital signs develop leading to COVID-19, doctors will be able to not only detect but to predict at an early stage, providing more effective treatments,” added Cheng. 

Since many other diseases share similar vital sign analysis, this bracelet can be used in a wider scope; not only for combatting COVID-19.

This project is funded by a Mitacs Accelerate internship program. 

Ready for more? Learn about AI research in the Faculty of Science, and discover how the University of Alberta is helping to tackle COVID-19.