Front line workers are at high risk of contracting COVID19. Even with the best prevention methods, close contact with patients means that some of these workers will contract the virus. In this situation, how might we best care for the worker's health while limiting their likelihood of spreading the virus further?
Early detection of symptoms would allow front line workers to access treatment as early as possible in the event of their contracting the virus. It would also allow them to begin social distancing as early as possible in order to reduce further spread of the virus.
SensWear is a wearable device that continuously monitors the vital signs of front line workers as they go about their day. It measures core body temperature, heart rate, SpO2 and respiration rate and is positioned at the ear in order to get the most accurate measurements. It does not obstruct the worker's ability to hear.
In addition to providing early warning of COVID19 symptoms, SensWear collects valuable biometric data that can be used for research into how the onset of the virus progresses.
SensWear is a product by Hearable Labs, a wireless headphone development company in Berlin. We are supported by Cosinuss in Munich, a world leader in development of wearable, in-ear vitals monitoring devices.
During this hackathon, Maria Jose Ayala and Harry Bikas provided the designs that brought SensWear to life.
Derek Young and Yoel Ezra provided expert medical advice.
How it works
Senswear is worn on the ear like a wireless earbud. It senses vital signs inside the user's ear canal and saves them in memory on the device. This data is wirelessly transmitted at regular intervals, either via the user's smartphone or over the hospital's wireless network, to a central server.
An algorithm running on the earpiece gives a warning via audio message to the worker if symptoms are detected. This warning is also relayed wirelessly to the phone or network to ensure it is not missed. The user can also hear a readout of their vital signs at any time by pressing a sensor on the earpiece.
The earpiece contains a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 12 hours. It is ergonomically designed for all day comfort and features a vented earpiece design so that hearing ability is not obstructed.
If allowed by the workplace, the ability to take calls and stream music via the earpiece can be unlocked.
The hardware for this type of device is proven and straightforward, so rather than spending the hackathon building a prototype, we designed the real device. At the beginning of this weekend, SensWear was a seed of an idea. It’s now a fully specified product with early mechanical and electrical designs, indicative production costs and marketing material for investors and customers.
In the first instance, SensWear will provide early warning of symptoms to frontline workers, allowing them to access care quickly. Not enough is known yet about the virus to quantify the impact of this on the health and recovery outcomes of frontline workers who contract it, but as with most diseases, early intervention is likely to improve outcomes significantly.
In addition to timely care of the worker who has contracted the virus, early detection will allow the worker to remove themselves from contact with patients, co-workers, etc., as early as possible, reducing further spread of the virus.
The auxiliary benefit of the device is its collection of detailed, accurate and comprehensive data on patient symptoms at the early onset of the virus. This will provide a unique dataset, since current monitoring systems are only deployed on patients who are already sick. The dataset can then be used by machine learning algorithms to gain further understanding of the virus to improve detection, treatment and development of a vaccine.
As the timeline of the pandemic progresses, SensWear has other important applications. As lockdowns lift and workplaces begin to open back up, people will continue to be careful about who they interact with. SensWear can provide peace of mind that an individual is not running a fever or having respiratory difficulties, whether for their own knowledge or to assure customers that they are healthy. For example, a delivery company may provide SensWear for all their delivery drivers to look after their employees' health and to reassure their customers.
As more individuals and organistions adopt SensWear for early virus detection, the data will grow and Senswear will become more powerful. This device is a unique opportunity to address current challenges while investing in future solutions.
Necessities to continue
SensWear is a real product from a real company. We have the capacity to complete the design and certify the product quickly, as well as manufacturing the electronics on our assembly line here in Berlin.
In order to do this we require funding urgently.
Value after the crisis
Beyond the current crisis, SensWear is a valuable tool for easily and comfortably monitoring vital signs of any individuals or groups at risk of falling ill.