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It’s during times like these that inspire innovation. Like the announcements below.


In that spirit, the "Fighting Germs” contest is here to not only reward that innovation ─ but also give to other charities for those attempting the same thing! It’s fun, it’s beneficial.


They say the best time to plant a tree is thirty years ago. The next best time is today.


Tech rivals collaborate to help improve pandemic apps.

(Photos from Google/App)


With the coronavirus still spreading despite nationwide lockdowns, some are turning to contact tracing apps to fight back. Many governments have tried to roll out their own apps but have run into technical problems and privacy issues. To combat this, Apple and Google have released their own smartphone technology to automatically notify people if they have been exposed to the virus.


Rather than replacing many tracing apps on the market, their new technology aims to address technical issues governments have faced while building Bluetooth based apps. The Apple and Google build uses Bluetooth technology to detect when someone who has downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. The user's identity will be protected by encryption and anonymous identifier beacons that frequently change. The technology also makes it easier for iPhones and Android phones to detect each other, work across national and regional borders, and fix issues relating to battery usage.


So far, state officials in North Dakota, Alabama, and South Carolina have expressed interest in using it. Though it offers more privacy and security, many are still ambivalent about how effective it will be. It relies on people actually using the app, and even then, it could have the opposite effect if people get too many false alerts to quarantine themselves.


COVIDCare helps those afflicted monitor their own symptoms and mental health needs


New app helps you monitor symptoms related to COVID-19.

(Photo from COVIDCare)

A new app developed by researchers at the University Melbourne Department of General Practice helps patients in self-isolation monitor their symptoms and identify their mental health needs. COVIDCare provides support to patients who show symptoms or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by providing the tools they need to monitor their symptoms. The app lets them measure things like their heart rate, body temperature and shortness of breath.


The app also encourages users to address their emotional needs by asking questions about how they are doing while in quarantine. Not only does this help identify their mental health needs, it also helps researchers with studies on how self-isolation impacts our mental health.


"This pandemic has changed the way we interact with others, and self-isolation will be a part of our lives as long as the pandemic continues," Associate Professor Palmer said. "We urgently need to document the mental health impacts for people and provide further support in the home context."


Researchers are currently holding a clinical trial for the app to test its safety and efficacy. Considering how difficult it has been for people to get treated as hospitals, this is a great way to help those exposed to COVID-19 keep track of their health and address their mental health needs.


Fitbit launches to study to research COVID early development.

Could your Fitbit help detect early signs of COVID-19?

(Picture from Fitbit)


Fitbit is launching its own study to see if it can develop an algorithm to accurately detect an infection before the onset of symptoms. Working in collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute and Stanford Medicine, the company is conducting research to see if wearables can help track and detect COVID-19. The move comes after discovering how fitness wearables are being used by academic institutions to find out if they might be able to contribute to early detection.


The company is looking for volunteers who have either had or have COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms to answer questions to contribute to its research. Fitbit devices and the app will also be used to help detect any patterns that could be linked to early warning signs of infection, such as changes in heart rate and sleep. Participation is voluntary and those who sign up still have the option to withdraw if they change their mind.


Early detection could play a big part in curbing the spread of COVID-19. The virus continues to spread because many people don't know if they have been exposed until they're already exhibiting symptoms. Being able to detect infection before symptoms show up may not only help slow down the spread of virus, it could help lighten the burden many hospitals face with trying to take care of patients in critical condition.


To learn more about the study and to sign up, visit the Fitbit website.


Microsoft and UnitedHealth team up to launch ProtectWell for employers

The new app will be available to all employers for free

(Photo from UnitedHealth)


Microsoft and UnitedHealth have teamed up to launch, ProtectWell, a new app that help employers safely bring back employees. The app is supposed to help employees determine they're safe enough to return to work, inform co-workers that their colleagues have been screened, and lets employers know their workplace is ready to reopen.


The app uses an AI chatbot that asks users questions to detect COVID-19 symptoms or exposure based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. If it determins they're at risk, employers can direct their employees through a secure testing process with results reported directly to employers. The type of testing will depend on the employer.


"For some employers, the app may enable an employee who needs a test to click a button and have a home test kit delivered to them; for others, an employee may be directed to call HR, or their supervisor, who will then direct them on where and how to obtain a test," UnitedHealth spokesperson Eric Hausman said.


It also features guidelines and resources for workplace safety, such as social distancing and sanitation efforts that can be used in the workplace. So far, the app is being used by UnitedHealth for its own frontline workers, while Microsoft said it plans to adopt the ap for its employees. ProtectWell will be available to all US employers for free.


Duke University students create contact tracing app that relies on ultrasound technology.

The app uses ultrasound technology to accurately trace contacts.

(Photo from NOVID)


As cities begin to reopen, officials are encouraging people to use contact tracing apps to help lessen the spread of COVID. But many of these apps come with a slew of privacy and security issues that put you at risk. A new app created by Duke University students tracks COVID without storing your information and tens of thousands of people have downloaded it since its release.


NOVID uses Bluetooth and ultrasound technology to accurately trace contacts as soon as you open the app. When opened, the app created a random ID and without using GPS tracking or any stored personal information, the ultrasound sensing is used to confirm contact."


“When your phone is outside, and if someone else is running NOVID and close by, they try to pair to each other the same way headphones would try to pair without you having to do anything,” said Po-Shen Loh, Carnegie Mellon University math professor leading the effort.


“So that, at any point, if somebody presses 'Report Positive Test,' then some alerts can go out to tell other people someone just self-reported a positive test. Within the time that they were possibly contagious, they spent at least 15 minutes near you, added Loh.


The creators are hoping the app will encourage more people to report results to help others make smart decisions about interacting with other people. The team worked with health organizations like the CDC and the National Institutes of Health to help with the app. NOVID is available to download for free.



Deep Insights create new app to help medical professionals with COVID research.

Covid Insights combs through a large database of COVID research papers using machine learning technology.

(Photo from CDC)


The daily news is filled with staggering reports, insights, and stats about COVID. With so much out there, it can be overwhelming finding a trustworthy source to get the information you need. UK data analytics and AI specialist Deeper Insights hopes to ease that burden with their new app, COVID Insights. The app is a centralized database that gathers all research papers written about COVID making it easier for medical professionals to find.


The app uses the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, or CORD-19, to navigate over 128,000 scientific research papers that have been produced on the virus since January 2020. It uses machine learning and a knowledge graph to determine the relevance of results. Then the results are aligned to the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) Metaontolgy, to ensure full clinical understanding through a standardized medical language.


COVID Insights is able to identify links between symptoms, drugs and other factors. The app also provides direct links to the original scientific papers to enable further study. Deep Insights hopes the app will help keep medical professions informed with the latest about the virus. COVID Insights will initially be circulated through the NHS-approved clinical messaging app, Hospify.


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