MIT Develops A System That Provides COVID-19 Tracking With Bluetooth Signals

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MIT is working on a system where people can track their contact with COVID-19. The Bluetooth-based application developed as part of the study will detect whether people are in contact with patients caught in the coronavirus.

A team led by MIT researchers and involving experts from many institutions is developing a system that tracks the contact of coronavirus patients with other people. The system is based on Bluetooth signals emitted from smartphones.

If a person tests positively, the list of people he has been approaching in the past 14 days will be uploaded to the database via the Bluetooth signal his phone emits. Other people will also be able to see if they are in close contact with COVID-19 patients by scanning the database. If a contact is detected, the system will be notified that the person may have been exposed to the virus.

Bluetooth signals will monitor COVID-19 patients anonymously
MIT Professor Ron Rivest said that the radiated Bluetooth signals will enable people to see if they are close to an infected person. For signals emitted from devices, cryptographic techniques without aliases, which constantly change identity and cannot be monitored are used. In other words, confidentiality is the basis for the recognition and safety of patients.

This approach to automatic monitoring of coronavirus patients is planned to be presented in a variety of ways, with a privacy study called SafePaths. A comprehensive mobile application is being developed in MIT Media Lab to control Bluetooth signals.

Users can scan contact with coronavirus from database
Patients with a positive diagnosis will receive a QR code from their healthcare provider and will be able to scan the code and upload their logs to the cloud through the app. Thus, anyone who has the application will be able to use the application to scan these logs. If there is a match, users will be informed about how long they have been in contact with an infected person and the approximate distance.

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MIT’s next major step towards implementation will be collaborating with smartphone manufacturers and software developers. MIT will also collaborate with institutions such as the Massachusetts General Health Center, CSAIL, MIT Lincoln Lab, Boston University, Brown University, MIT Media Lab, Weizmann Science Institute and SRI International.

The application designed by MIT works like the “Find My Phone” feature, which allows Apple users to find lost devices. When you indicate that you have lost your device in this system, if your lost device is next to another Apple device, the other device detects Bluetooth signals and gives you location information.


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