Portable Device Has Same Objectives As TraceTogether, Won’t Need Smartphone, Says Vivian Balakrishnan

A range of new technologies have emerged to help Singaporeans deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, be it cleaning robots or social distancing “ambassadors”¬†that are alternately cute and reminiscent of the robotic dogs in Black Mirror.

So, it’s no surprise that we’re making use of technology again for the all-important purpose of contact tracing.

While we already have contact-tracing app TraceTogether, Singaporeans might receive a wearable version soon, making it much easier for us to make use of it.

Wearable device will achieve same objectives as TraceTogether

This was announced by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, in Parliament on Friday (5 Jun), according to a video of the proceedings posted by Channel News Asia (CNA).

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The minister had previously mentioned the wearable device during a Bloomberg interview in May, saying it would use a battery and be able to be carried around on a lanyard or handbag.

Dr Balakrishnan added on Friday that the wearable device will “achieve the same objectives” as contact-tracing app TraceTogether.

TraceTogether app doesn’t work well with Apple devices

By now, about 1.5 million users have downloaded the TraceTogether app, which facilitates contact tracing via Bluetooth.

However, a drawback of the app is that it does not work well with Apple devices, as the Bluetooth scanning function is suspended when the app is running in the background, said Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Foreign Minister.

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Despite their attempts to work around it with Apple, no satisfactory resolution came out of multiple discussions.

As the TraceTogether app “does not work as well across all smartphones”, Dr Balakrishnan said that the Government has decided not to make it mandatory for citizens to download it.

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Portable technology that doesn’t need a smartphone

Therefore, they are working on something everybody can use without needing a smartphone.

This portable device will soon be rolled out, and all Singaporeans can expect to receive one if it turns out to be functional.

In Dr Balakrishnan’s words,

I believe this will be more inclusive, and it will ensure that all of us will be protected.

Contact tracing device coming soon

Though we do not have a glimpse of what this new device looks like, we know that it is wearable and portable.

Might it become a part of Singaporeans’ Covid-19 fashion, joining compulsory face masks and face shields?

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We await more news with bated breath.

Featured image adapted from Facebook.