Sprint Covid-19, a task force led by the Innovation Department at Assuta Hospital in Ashdod, Israel, together with Rafael Advanced Technology and Weizmann Institute of Science, has today launched with the aim of increasing testing for the Coronavirus through smart devices. The group is working to develop a heuristic test that can be carried out on smartphones and smartwatches to identify asymptomatic, presymptomatic and mild cases which would otherwise go undetected.
The task force has set out to enhance large-scale Covid-19 testing, something that is proving a huge challenge for countries around the world. Through technology available on a number of smart devices, Sprint Covid-19 aims to measure users’ blood oxygen levels, which is seen as an important first step in identifying the virus.
“A large percentage of the coronavirus infected population may suffer from silent hypoxemia, i.e. hypoxemia without dyspnea,” said Myriam Bocobza who is heading the innovative research. “We now know that 50% of the coronavirus positive carriers did not feel any symptoms, so they kept wandering around infecting more people. In a bid to tackle this issue, we found that many smartphones or smartwatch devices enable testing your own blood oxygen levels and this could lead to identifying new and existing cases.”
“By testing blood oxygen levels, a lot of the contagion could have been prevented. The simple truth is that checking for fever before entering the shopping mall is just not enough. Oxygen levels in the blood need to be tested as well, if not more than body temperature.” said Bocobza.
Tracking and identifying compatible smart devices is a task that requires collecting massive amounts of openly available data from across the worldwide web. In just under 24 hours, Luminati Networks, a leading operator in the data collection automation industry, has processed a huge amount of data locating over 110 smartphone models, 165 models of smartwatches and smart bands, that can conduct this simple test.
“We were thrilled that we could help with such a critical task of potentially saving many lives,” said Or Lenchner, Luminati Networks, CEO. “We continue to offer all relevant researchers from all over the world our expertise in collecting openly available online data for free. We want to help in any way we can.”
In order to provide a solution, Sprint Covid-19 needed to know if it is feasible to have a large portion of the population checking their own oxygen blood levels daily and independently using their smartphones or smartwatches. Thankfully through the use of technology and data, this is possible.
“In Israel alone, 13% of mobile users that own a Samsung model are able to test oxygen levels in their blood,” said Lenchner. “We also gathered information across the globe and found that up to 17% of the global smartphone owners own devices that carry the Sp02 sensor, which can enable the test as well, covering nearly 19% of the US smartphone owners, 18% of the UK smartphone owners and up to 12% of Italy’s. These are outstanding numbers and I hope they help in stopping the Covid-19 pandemic’s progress.” he added.
The Covid-19 task force plans to make the list of devices available to the Israeli public and the rest of the world shortly.