Mobile app uses Bluetooth in detecting people with COVID-19

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Photo courtesy: NOVID App/Facebook

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 8) — A mobile application seeks to go beyond contact tracing as it uses Bluetooth to detect people with COVID-19.

Dr. Po-Shen Loh, founder of NOVID, told CNN Philippines the app works like a radar where it will notify its user if there are people infected with the coronavirus in his/her network or vicinity.

"This is the first tool in the world which would let you know automatically that COVID-19 has suddenly struck somebody who spends time, somebody who spends time with you," Loh said.

Unlike other contact tracing apps, NOVID is not concerned with the user's personal information as it is more focused in tracking COVID-19 infected persons within the user's area.

"It's just like if you have an airplane or a ship or a radar, the radar doesn't need your mobile number in order for the radar to start working," Loh explained.

Loh added NOVID will be useful in the Philippine setting, given its slow Internet connection. Some groups are now experimenting with the application's wider use in the country.

"In particular, the reason we use Bluetooth as our primary way of phones talking to each other is because Bluetooth doesn't require internet or data. The phones automatically talk to each other like radios on Bluetooth and they keep track of which random people," Loh said.

Loh encouraged the use of NOVID, especially in areas where new COVID-19 variants have emerged, since it prioritizes the protection of people from the disease.

"If you just want to not get sick, this is the app for you. Now once you have something that everyone actually wants to install and which build this understanding of anonymous person here next to anonymous person there," he said.

As of Monday, the Philippines has a total of 538,995 confirmed COVID-19 cases, where 27,992 of which are active. Some 11,231 persons died and 499,772 patients recovered from COVID-19.