Covid-novation — Digital technology and innovation to fight the coronavirus
A daily-updated list of technology-based initiatives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
All projects, products and initiatives listed here are trying to bring solutions to this global crisis. We can’t be sure that they will succeed, be effective against the pandemic, or really benefit the people. But at least they are possible ideas, showing that digital innovation is one of our best assets to tackle challenges and foster human progress.
Last update: April 5, 2020.
4/1/2020. Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing
PEPP-PT is a new initiative to provide standards, technology, and services to countries and developers in order to enable privacy-respectful tracing of COVID-19 infection chains across national borders. “Anything we provide is based on voluntary participation, provides anonymity, does not use personal data nor geolocation information, operates in full compliance with GDPR, and has been certified and tested by security professionals,” the organization stated.
More than 130 members across eight European countries have already joined the effort, and PEPP-PT will be incorporated as a non-profit in Switzerland.
3/27/2020. MiPasa to gather and analyse Coronavirus data
MiPasa is a new project aiming at making data on COVID-19 more reliable. The blockchain-based platform, created by Hacera with IBM and many other partners, is utilizing powerful analytics and privacy tools to gather reliable, quality data, and make it easily accessible to the appropriate entities.
“MiPasa is designed to make it possible to synthesize data sources, address their inconsistencies, help identify errors or misreporting and seamlessly integrate credible new feeds,” IBM said. This will allow “swift and more precise early detection of COVID-19 carriers and infection hotspots through seamless and fully private information sharing between individuals, state authorities and health institutions.”
A community-based and open source project powered by over 460 volunteers from across the globe, CoronaTracker acts as a portal to keep track of the COVID-19: reported cases, local news, travel alerts and more, all gathered from official sources.
3/24/2020. Fostering ideas through hackathons
Hacking Health has launched a #hackcorona section, encouraging collaborators around the world to form teams and respond to challenges, with projects bringing solutions in 3D Printing, software development, databases and others.
3/24/2020. Gamified quarantine app
Snapchat’s Zenly was built for sharing one’s location with friends, but is now used to incentivise users to stay home. A “Stay At Home” challenge has been launched in the form of a leaderboard allowing users to compete over the percentage of their time they spend at home. Participants can share stickers of the scoreboard on social networks.
3/21/2020. Free online consultation service
JD Health, part of JD.com, China’s largest retailer and the world’s third largest Internet company, has launched its global free online medical consultation service. The platform features doctors and medical experts with rich frontline experience in fighting against COVID-19, traditional Chinese medicine experts, and physicians offering services in both English and Chinese.
MOBILE APPS / ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
3/20/2020. WhatsApp Health Alert for COVID-19
The World Health Organization has launched an easy-to-use messaging service with WhatsApp. The service gives the latest news and information on coronavirus in multiple languages, including details on symptoms, and provides the latest situation reports and numbers in real time.
The app is based on Health Alert, a mobile service created in South Africa by Praekelt.org. The WhatsApp-based helpline supports users on health queries or concerns through automated responses based on machine learning and natural language understanding.
Created by several health and artificial intelligence experts, COV-CLEAR intends to become the world’s largest COVID-19 case tracker. The tool is open, free, non-commercial and absolutely confidential. Everyone can share their own anonymous case reports and the website provides insightful results that will help to get a more precise view on the pandemic.
DISTRIBUTED COMPUTING / CRYPTOS
Folding@home, based at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, is a distributing computing platform allowing anyone with a computer to help scientific research. Participants download a dedicated software and contribute to calculations in order to find new cures. The efforts are now focused on simulating the dynamics of COVID-19 proteins to hunt for new therapeutic opportunities.
Additionally, several crypto-projects have joined the effort and participants can sometimes be rewarded in crypto-currencies for contributing:
DRONES / ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
3/26/2020. Drones for health monitoring
The University of South Australia will use drones developed by Draganfly to remotely monitor and detect people with infectious and respiratory conditions. The initiative is part of the “Vital Intelligence Project”, which will make use of autonomous cameras, sensors and unmanned vehicles to gather data about COVID-19, “including monitoring temperatures, heart and respiratory rates, amongst crowds, workforces, airlines, cruise ships, potential at-risk groups, i.e., seniors in care facilities, convention centers, border crossings or critical infrastructure facilities.”
3/26/2020. Free quantum cloud services for researchers
D-Wave, provider of a quantum-based cloud service to build and deploy hybrid quantum applications, is offering free resources to help fight COVID-19, including time on their quantum processing units.
3/23/2020. Deep learning for automated x-ray detection of COVID-19
DarwinAI and University of Waterloo have developed COVID-Net, a convolutional neural network for COVID-19 detection via chest radiography. It may be the first of its kind made open source and freely available to the general public.
3/19/2020. Ventilator design challenge
The Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre launched a global innovation challenge, backed by a prize of $200,000 CAD. The goal is to design a low-cost, simple, easy-to-use and easy-to-build ventilator that can serve the COVID patients. It should be easy to build locally, for instance through 3D printing.
4/2/2020. Autonomous delivery robots
Several cities have deployed fully automated vehicles in their streets to deliver goods during the pandemic. Most of the vehicles are small and driverless vans made by start-ups and allowing contactless operation.
Since February, UDI has been operating a small fleet of vehicles in three cities, where they deliver meal boxes to checkpoint workers and spray disinfectant near hospitals. Combined, the vans have made more than 2,500 autonomous trips, sometimes through busy traffic conditions. Another company, Neolix, has deployed 50 vehicles in 10 major cities, and said it had booked 200 new orders in the past two months (compared to 159 orders in the eight months before).
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE / AUGMENTED REALITY
3/26/2020. Smartglasses to detect fever
Hangzhou park security guards are now equipped with smartglasses able to quickly detect the body temperature of all visitors from a distance of up to 1 meter. The devices are made by Rokid Corp and use non-contact thermal augmented reality allowing the guards to visualize the temperature of several hundred people in minutes.
3/13/2020. Isolation tiny houses
3D Printing company WinSun has donated 200 miniature isolation pods to hospital workers and people forced to quarantine. Built in 2 hours by a large 3D printing machine, each 10-sq-m isolation house is built with recyclable materials, equipped with ecological toilets, and can be transported on a truck to be placed anywhere without the need for foundations.
3/10/2020. Non-contact elevator buttons
Several non-contact self-service machines, ATMs, and elevator buttons have been put into use in hospitals and office buildings in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province. Developed by Easpeed Technology, these devices use a kind of interactive holographic imaging technology to project virtual buttons and operation interfaces in mid-air, avoiding touching real objects.
3/10/2020. Humanoid robots as hospital staff workers
The Wuchang field hospital in Wuhan has deployed humanoid robots to help with the COVID-19 patients. The 5G-powered robots can move around and avoid obstacles automatically, while carrying out tasks like taking patients’ temperatures, delivering meals, disinfecting the facility, or disposing of medical waste. Twelve sets of the androids, based on the Pepper robotic platform, were donated by California-based tech company CloudMinds.
2/14/2020. Donation tracking platform
Shanzong, launched by blockchain start-up Hyperchain and China Xiong’an Group, tracks the donations related to the COVID-19 crisis (money, masks, medical materials), how they have been matched to areas of need, and when they have been delivered.
2/10/2020. Blockchain-based claims
Xiang Hu Bao, a “collective claims-sharing mechanism built on blockchain that offers basic health plans to its 104 million participants,” has been used during the COVID-19 to make settlements more efficient, reduce fraudulent claims, and make the whole process more transparent.
2/6/2020. Autonomous delivery robots
JD.com has started testing the use of its autonomous delivery robots in Wuhan. The automated carts are providing last-mile delivery of goods coming from automated warehouses able to work 24/7. The company has also been making preparations for drone delivery of medical supplies in China.
4/3/2020. A 3D printing factory in a hospital
Hôpital Cochin in Paris has installed a mini-factory equipped with no less than sixty 3D printers. The machines will produce, on-demand and for the next three months, some useful parts — from ventilators valves to handles or face shields — that will be delivered to all other hospitals in the Île-de-France region
A dedicated website, 3D Covid, has been launched to gather orders and share designs.
3/21/2020. Drones to enforce confinement
The French police has started using drones to enforce the confinement rules, acting as a warning to people who do not respect the lockdown.
3/12/2020. Covidom, telehealth solution for non-hospitalized patients
Covidom is a telehealth mobile app designed to follow patients infected by the coronavirus but having mild symptoms and not needing urgent care in hospitals. Users answer daily questions through the app and alerts are generated depending on the responses. When necessary, for example in case of high fever or significant respiratory discomfort reported by the patient, the remote medical monitoring centre is alerted. The app was developed by AP-HP (39 hospitals in Paris) and Nouveal e-santé.
3/26/2020. Rapid test for COVID-19
Bosch has presented an automated solution for testing of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection in patients in under two and a half hours. Samples are placed into a cartridge, itself inserted into a machine providing a molecular diagnostic. Developed in six weeks and based on the Vivalytic analysis platform, the device allows a single sample to be tested not just for COVID-19 but also for nine other respiratory diseases, including influenza A and B, simultaneously.
BLOCKCHAINS / MOBILE APPS
3/26/2020. An app for quarantine protocols and medical data
Emerge has announced several blockchain-based initiatives: a supply chain solution, Theseus, to tackle heightened demand for medical supplies and medications, and Civitas, a mobile app developed with tech company Penta Network and the Honduran government.
The app, which can be used on smartphones or through text messages on older phones, associates people’s ID numbers with unique blockchain records, accessible either by hospitals or law enforcement agents. “The last digits on your ID number determines which days you circulate,” the company explained, adding that “the government doesn’t view the health records, it’s a patient record for the health care provider. Police don’t get to see your profile. They just see a yes or no question about whether the person is allowed to be circulating at that time.”
MOBILE APPS / CONNECTED DEVICES
3/20/2020. StayHomeSafe + wristband
People arriving to Hong Kong from overseas have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine and are provided with an electronic wristband that need to be paired to a mobile app called StayHomeSafe. The app uses geofencing technology to trigger a warning and alert the government if the user doesn’t stay home as requested.
3/11/2020. Automated subway disinfection
MTR, the public transport network serving Hong Kong, in partnership with Avalon Biomedical, has deployed robots to conduct deep cleaning and decontamination in train compartments and stations. Dubbed “VHP Robot” (Vaporised Hydrogen Peroxide Robot), the mini-fridge size machines are spraying disinfectants that penetrate in the small gaps difficult to reach during normal cleaning work. The robots can operate automatically by pre-setting the floor plan of the designated area, or be remotely controlled by a human operator. It takes about 4 hours to complete the cleaning of an 8-car train in automatic mode, and MTR will deploy 20 robots.
2/25/2020. Protective shields for medical staff
Polytechnic University is 3D printing medical plastic face shields designed to protect medical staff. The printed frame can be fitted with a new plastic sheet when needed and is designed to be worn over surgical masks. The university was able to produce 10,000 shields and plans to increase the production to 30,000 by the end of March.
2/10/2020. Paperless insurance coverage
Blue Cross Asia Pacific Insurance, a subsidiary of the Bank of East Asia, offers a blockchain-based platform reducing human interaction for healthcare coverage. “Our blockchain-backed claims service has played a key role during the outbreak of the coronavirus by totally eliminating the paper process and the need for back-and-forth documents delivering to clinics. This really helps to mitigate the risk of infection from face-to-face contact,” said Patrick Wan, Managing Director of Blue Cross.
3/28/2020. National Teleconsultation Centre (CoNTeC)
AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) has launched CoNTeC, a Telemedicine Hub, wherein “expert doctors from various clinical domains will be available 24x7 to answer questions from all over the country.” The service is multi-modal, allowing 2-way audio-video and text communications, through simple mobile phones or using WhatsApp, Skype and Google Duo.
3/16/2020. Open Source Ventilator
This project has been formed with the intent to produce a Field Emergency Ventilator (FEV) — a simplified, low-cost and emergency-use ventilator, producible at scale to aid the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Developed in partnership with the Irish Health Service, the project will rely on 3D printing and open source designs.
3/15/2020. Printed valves
The start-up Isinnova 3D printed 100 Venturi valves, the parts that connect oxygen masks to respirators, and donated them to a hospital. Made of plastic, the valves cost next to nothing to produce and weigh around 20 grams each. The company is now working on adapting a snorkeling mask already available on the market (sold by Decathlon) to create a possible replacement of CPAP masks, used by coronavirus patients suffering from respiratory complications.
3/19/2020. Drones to disinfect the streets
Three drones are used to disinfect the city of Pasig. Originally designed to help farmers with crop pest management, the drones can load up to 10 liters of disinfectant, fly continuously for 30 minutes, and spray from 500 to 1000 square meters.
3/23/2020. Open-source ventilator
Urbicum has launched the VentilAid project, an effort to design an open-source ventilator which can be 3D printed and assembled with easily accessible parts. A first prototype, which can be reproduced locally after 15 hours of printing, has been designed and can be used as a last resort device when professional equipment is missing.
3/20/2020. Home quarantine selfie app
Intended for people undergoing a mandatory 14-day quarantine after returning from abroad, the app uses geolocation and facial recognition to allow users to check-in with authorities and confirm they are indeed staying at home as required. The app randomly requests selfies throughout the day and notifies police if users fail to respond within 20 minutes.
3/23/2020. National Supercomputing Resources Joins the Fight
The National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore has launched a Special Call for Projects to welcome applications from local scientists fighting COVID-19 who require supercomputing resources from now till September 2020.
3/20/2020. Robotic cleaners and telepresence robots
Robot-cleaners have been deployed at the Alexandra Hospital this month. Developed by LionsBot International, the robot quietly glides through the hallways while scrubbing the floor and navigating around patients with a polite “Excuse me.”
Meanwhile, another robot called BeamPro, made by Suitable Technologies, is making its rounds in the same hospital’s two isolation wards. Designed for telepresence, the robot enters the room and doctors or nurses are able to see the patient via a camera on the robot, limiting unnecessary risk of exposure to healthcare workers
3/20/2020. TraceTogether to track contacts
Developed by the Government Technology Agency and the Ministry of Health,TraceTogether is able to alert people who have been close (within 2 meters for at least 30 minutes) to coronavirus patients. The app is using Bluetooth technology and users have to give explicit consent for their mobile number and data to be used for contact tracing.
On March 23, the government announced that the app, already installed by more than 620,000 people, will be open-sourced, allowing its source code to be freely redistributed and modified.
WEB APPS / MOBILE APPS
3/12/2020. Masks locator app
Hospital location and reservation app DdocDoc has launched a “mask map”, a service indicating where masks are sold and how much stocks remain in real time. The app is based on an open API about mask sales released by the government to encourage developers to create apps that notify people about the inventory statuses of pharmacies nationwide.
BLOCKCHAINS / MOBILE APPS
3/26/2020. Decentralized Global Pandemic Information Platform
GeoDB has developed Aid Squad, a blockchain-based mobile app where users can share their symptoms anonymously and express their support for solidarity causes. All data, through the IOTA blockchain, is publicly available and tamper-proof, and it is used to create visualization tools and heat maps representing the geographical distribution of the disease.
Additionally, users receive “karma points” for sharing their personal health data and can send them to solidarity causes to express their support. The system quantifies the gratitude expressed by users to each cause by allocating AidSquad Tokens, generated by a smart contract deployed on Ethereum.
3/30/2020. Video consultations
LIVI has launched a free Web-based platform, LIVI Connect, that will enable healthcare professionals to connect with patients via video. Doctors log on and send patients a unique link to their mobile phones, which will launch the video consultation.
CONNECTED DEVICES / MOBILE APPS
3/24/2020. A connected device to detect CoVID-19 in 30 minutes
Researchers at Brunel University London, Lancaster University and University of Surrey have developed an innovative device incorporating artificial intelligence, image processing and molecular virology to quickly detect CoVID-19 using a smartphone application. “The battery-operated and hand-held smartphone-linked device is highly cost effective (£100/device) and easy to use. In 30 minutes, it can determine if someone has CoVID-19. The samples don’t need to go to a laboratory and the same device can test six people at once at a cost of around £4 per person.”
The team believes it can make this device and its associated system available for adoption within a few weeks.
3/24/2020. COVID Symptom Tracker
Designed by doctors and scientists at King’s College London, Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals, in partnership with health science company ZOE Global Ltd, the app is used to study the symptoms of the virus and track how it spreads. Users take a 1-minute survey to self-report daily, even if they are well.
The app will be available in the U.S. from March 26th.
BLOCKCHAINS / MOBILE APPS
3/28/2020. Agerona, an app for secure testing and immutable results
Genobank.io and the Telos Foundation have partnered to develop an open-source mobile app that will allow users to securely source low-cost COVID-19 testing. “The results will be stored anonymously on the Telos blockchain, where users will control their own data and have the ability to share their results with researchers, if they choose to.” Named Agerona and expected to launch in April, the app will also include an experimental feature allowing users to record a sound clip of their cough.
3/27/2020. Loop Signal, monitoring service through smart wristband
Spry Health has launched Loop Signal, a new clinician-led service to assist in the surge of COVID-19 cases and reduce avoidable hospital visits. The service utilizes a wrist-worn wearable to remotely track heart rate, pulse-oximetry, and respiratory rate, without requiring any input or data from patients or the use off a smartphone app. The system’s clinical dashboard aggregates data to easily identify patients at risk and prioritize care.
WEB APPS / MOBILE APPS
3/25/2020. SafeTrace, privacy-preserving, self-reporting system
Enigma, a company devoted to building “a decentralized Internet based on decentralized protocols,” is working on a platform called SafeTrace to facilitate privacy-preserving contact tracing for COVID-19. Thanks to encryption, it will “let users share sensitive location and health data with other users and officials, without compromising the privacy of that data.”
The project is welcoming volunteers and collaborators.
3/24/2020. Social Distancing Scoreboard
Unacast has launched a visualisation map to help raise awareness and reinforce the importance of social distancing. The tool combines the data of tens of millions of anonymous mobile phones and their interactions with each other to establish a social indexing score for every U.S. county.
3/23/2020. Amelia, conversational digital assistant for COVID-19
IPsoft has adapted its AI-powered conversational agent to COVID-19. Accessible by voice call or browser, Amelia, a “digital colleague modeled on human intelligence, understanding and empathy”, makes an initial risk assessment and gives additional information about the pandemic.
3/23/2020. COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium
A new consortium of U.S. government agencies and private companies are gathering an unprecedented amount of computer power by joining 16 supercomputers in support of COVID-19 research. The Consortium partners include IBM, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, the National Science Foundation, NASA and half a dozens of universities and national laboratories. Altogether, the computing power totals 330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, and 34,000 GPUs.
3/21/2020. Coronavirus Self Checker bot
The CDC has used Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service to create a COVID-19 assessment chatbot to screen Americans who may be unsure whether to seek medical care. The chatbot asks questions about symptoms and risk factors, suggests next steps (including whether to self-isolate, consult with a telehealth professional, or visit an emergency room), and provides useful links.
3/20/2020. A health map based on smart thermometers
Kinsa, a smart thermometer company, is publishing a map to help tracking illness across the country. The thermometer, used by over 2 million people in the U.S., connects to an app where people can anonymously record their temperature and other symptoms.
3/19/2020. FluSense, a device to analyze coughing
University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers have invented a portable surveillance device powered by machine learning which can detect coughing and crowd size in real time, then analyze the data. Called FluSense, the device fits inside a box the size of a large dictionary and include a low-cost microphone array, thermal imaging sensors, and a neural computing engine. It stores no personally identifiable information, and could help transform sounds into health data for flu and pandemic forecasting.
3/17/2020. Private kit: Safe paths
A free and open-source app developed by MIT and Harvard University, “Private kit: Safe paths” let people know if they have come in contact with someone who has the coronavirus. The app tracks where the user has been and who he/she has crossed paths with. The resulting data is shared with other users in a privacy-preserving way.
3/14/2020. A Waze for COVID-19
Dr. Daniel Kraft, Singularity’s University’s Chair for Medicine and Founder & Chair of Exponential Medicine, intends to develop an app that would provide localized and personalized actionable information about COVID-19 to individuals. The app would share data with public health authorities.
3/7/2020. COVID Tracking Project
This spontaneous citizen initiative led by a journalist and joined by over 100 volunteers collects information from all US states to provide the most comprehensive testing data on the coronavirus. It includes positive and negative results, pending tests, and total people tested for each state or district currently reporting that data.
2/13/2020. Summit simulations
US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has deployed IBM built Summit, the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer, to fight against COVID-19. More powerful than one million high-end laptops, the supercomputer is doing simulations to examine how different variables impact the virus. In a few days, “researchers have already identified 77 small-molecule compounds, such as medications and natural compounds, that have shown the potential to impair COVID-19’s ability to dock with and infect host cells.”