PH firm to debut ‘tech wearables’ with contact tracing app

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Local technology firm VoxpTech has announced it is releasing a line of “tech wearables” with a contact tracing app meant to be worn under the “new normal”.

“With the LifeOnn line of wearables, anyone — from office and factory workers to school children — can have hi-tech safety and protection even without a smartphone. The LifeOnn wristband is an essential contact tracing tool that anonymously logs your proximity to other users so that we can inform you quickly in the event you have been exposed,” said Chito Bustamante, chief executive officer at VoxpTech.

Apart from its main contact tracing feature, the LifeOnn wearable will also have a thermometer, a heart rate monitor, sensory and accelerometers for motion, and signals for proper social distancing.

“And yes, it tells the time and sets alarms and stopwatches. It tells you if you’ve achieved your 10K step target or whether you’ve been lying down the sofa a bit too much. It’s your health and fitness tracker for the new normal,” added Bustamante.

The LifeOnn contact tracing bracelet basically carries all the features of the Philippine Red Cross’s official Covid-19 mobile app RC143 which VoxpTech created and rolled out earlier and which is now available for both Android and Apple iOS users.

The LifeOnn band is being readied for mass distribution as the Philippines gradually lifts rigid community quarantines in a necessary move to pump the economy back to life after a long and unprecedented nationwide lockdown.

“As a developing economy, we are challenged to begin with. Take for example, apps that would run the Google-Apple Covid-19 Exposure Notification feature. Many experts point out that at least 60% of one’s population must have the app running for the system to be effective. With 110-million Filipinos and only about 50-milion mobile Internet users, we’re already faced with a seemingly insurmountable task,” said Bustamante.

“Further, even if we did have that many smartphones in people’s hands, in many industries including BPOs, hotel, manufacturing and consumer retail, the use of mobile phones is forbidden on the floor,” he added.

Bustamante said the LifeOnn band offers an affordable and non-intrusive solution that allows greater flexibility for the new normal.

He said privacy and security policies aligned with the Data Privacy Act were prime considerations in the design of the app with contact tracing secured and encrypted and no names or identities ever exchanged between users.

Personal information, he added, is only eventually volunteered by a user in personal consultation with certified healthcare professionals or a company’s authorized HR and medical personnel.

“Interoperability discussions are well under way for the LifeOnn system to work with the much larger Philippine Red Cross RC143 network, made complete with the cooperation of partner LGUs,” said Bustamante.

VoxpTech first released RC143 in April 2020 as a mobile app with the following functionalities: anonymous contact tracing, exposure notification, navigational, emergency hotline and telehealth consultation.

“Our new LifeOnn wearable band is the very basic version of our app powered by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions that can confirm if we have been in dangerously close proximity at a PUV van, in a grocery, or in the office or factory floor,” said Bustamante.

The Philippine Red Cross as early as 2016 has relied on the same technology for its “143.Life” platform, which allowed its first responders to communicate via BLE even when telco infrastructure is damaged in the midst of super typhoons.

The LifeOnn wearable will be available to community and enterprise partners within the third quarter of this year, the company said.

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