Thursday, February 25, 2021

Phone app giving instant health checks trialled in Singapore

The app could become the first line of defence against further outbreaks of Covid-19.

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Each morning before work at Singapore construction sites, Kajima employees have their vital signs checked, without going to a clinic or even seeing a nurse.

All each worker needs is a smartphone, which in just 45 seconds can tell him his heart rate, oxygen levels and even his stress levels. It can also tell him if he should see a doctor.

The application, developed by Singapore startup Nervotec, is what construction firm Kajima considers its first line of defence against another outbreak of Covid-19 in Singapore, Reuters is reporting.

The city-state wants to avoid a repeat of last year when numerous clusters emerged in migrant worker dormitories.

Kajima staff at various sites have been using the application since December as part of a government programme that provides companies with trial-stage technology to help them adjust to the new norms of the pandemic era.

The app gives a diagnosis of the user’s health condition, using a smartphone camera that can measure heart rate by picking up changes in the reflectivity of light on the user’s skin between heart beats according to blood flow underneath.

Nervotec founder Jonathan Lau said the Singapore government is very interested in the technology.

Lau’s initial inspiration came from his experiences as an air force pilot, when he had to undergo constant check-ups.

He eventually founded a company that used wearable devices to monitor pilots, but when the pandemic hit he saw an opportunity to broaden the focus.

The app is still undergoing local review and Chwee Teck Lim, director of the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Health Innovation and Technology, said it could have a big impact if approved by regulators.

“What Nervotec is proposing could potentially be a game-changer,” Lim said.

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