Singapore plans a coronavirus contact tracing device for all to wear

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore plans to soon launch a wearable device for novel coronavirus contact tracing that, if successful, it will distribute to all of its 5.7 million residents, the government said on Friday.

The city-state has already developed the first-of-its-kind smartphone app to identify and alert people who have interacted with novel coronavirus carriers, but the bluetooth technology has been beset with glitches and the app is not widely used.

“We are developing and will soon roll out a portable wearable device that will … not depend on possession of a smartphone,” foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan told parliament on Friday.

“If this portable device works. We may then distribute it to everyone in Singapore … This will be more inclusive, and it will ensure that all of us will be protected.”

The device being developed can be worn on a lanyard or kept in a handbag and will be battery-operated, Balakrishnan said last month in an interview with Sky News Australia.

Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Robert Birsel