Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have built a system for tracing contacts of COVID-19 patients while preserving the privacy of an individual.
To automate contact tracing, the system uses short-range Bluetooth signals or "chirps" emitted from people's smartphones to nearby devices to help identify if they have been near an infected person, the official release notes. Apple's "Find My" feature also uses "chirps" to help locate lost devices.
When a person tests positive, they can upload their list of chirps their smartphone sent out in the past 14 days to a database, where other people can scan to check for any match picked up by their phones. If there's a match, it will notify the person about the possible exposure to the virus, and suggest the next steps.
The researchers have successfully prototyped the system and have also achieved interoperability between platforms and device models. They are now working on engaging the system with smartphone manufacturers and software developers.