Does wearable tech help fight spread of COVID-19?

'The potential for more behavioural change through workplace redesign will grow'

Does wearable tech help fight spread of COVID-19?
Data shows wearable tech can reduce close contacts, says a tech company specializing in the devices.

Wearable technology can be a big help in the fight against COVID-19 at the workplace, according to KINETIC, a wearable technology company.

Based on data gathered from the use of its contact tracing tool, manager and human resources time was reduced by 50 per cent. The “heightened accuracy” also allowed employers to be more strategic and confident in their contact tracing process.

“The greatest immediate value wearable tech offers companies is a new, actionable data set that augments contact tracing and uncovers opportunities for enhanced workplace safety amidst COVID concerns,” says Haytham Elhawary, KINETIC co-founder and CEO. “[With more data], the potential for more behavioural change through workplace redesign will grow.”

Seventy-seven per cent of American workers would wear an employer-issued wearable on their wrist if it provides certain benefits, according to a separate report from tech company Nymi in Toronto.

The KINETIC device also reveals problem areas where changes in design or processes can enhance safety practices, such as when an entire shift is working to unload a large trailer at the same time. These insights have helped companies reduce close contacts an average of 31 per cent and reduce long-duration contacts by 45 per cent, according to the company.

Also, using wearable tech data, one e-commerce company reduced lunchtime contacts by 70 per cent.

In early 2020, a wearable product called the Social Distancer was being touted as a way to help workers maintain a two-metre distance from each other.

Health and work
Wearable technology has a role to play in the entire continuum of care and work, according to Irma Rastegayeva, a consultant and storytelling coach for health, technology and patient experience in Boston.

“With tectonic shifts in how businesses operate amidst the global pandemic, the workplace might never look and feel the same. Wearables have a role to play in helping people return to work safely and keeping them healthy in their workplace,” she says.

“We will continue to see expansion of capabilities and uses of wearables and microfluidic devices. Whether it is allowing employees to feel safe on the job, employers to ensure the health of their workforce, or other population health measures, these technologies will transform how we think about health and the workplace.”

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