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Air Canada to explore 'wearable' COVID-19 contact tracing technology

TraceSCAN wearable technology to slow the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace through wristbands, wearable tags worn around the neck or pods that can be kept in the pocket.
Wearable COVID-19 tracking technology. Photo: Facedrive Inc.

Today, Air Canada announced its plans to explore the application of 'wearable' COVID-19 contact tracing technology in its workplace. 

The Canadian airline says it is implementing a Bluetooth enabled TraceSCAN app and wearable technology developed by Canadian-based Facedrive Inc. 

According to a release, TraceSCAN Wearables is an innovative technology that combines AI-enabled mobile applications with wearable devices built on the nRF52 Bluetooth chipset, which is used by the world's leading wearable manufacturers.

Facedrive Health then developed industry-specific TraceSCAN wearable technology to slow the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace through wristbands, wearable tags worn around the neck or pods that can be kept in the pocket.

"The health and safety of our employees is of paramount concern to Air Canada and is key to restoring our operations safely for our customers. Air Canada has embraced a science-based approach to managing COVID-19 and as part of this has committed to evaluate the use of new technologies like TraceSCAN's wearables. We are enthusiastic about exploring the use of TraceSCAN because this Canadian technology has the potential to provide another layer of safety for our employees, so they can focus on taking care of our customers," said Samuel Elfassy, Vice President, Safety at Air Canada.

"Our project with Air Canada is ground-breaking and provides another critical example of how TraceSCAN supplements the capability of the Canadian government-sponsored COVID Alert App. TraceSCAN will allow Air Canada to provide further protection to their employees, especially as many of these employees work in environments where the use of cell phone technology is not possible," said Sayan Navaratnam, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Facedrive Inc. "We are very pleased to help Air Canada explore ways to provide additional protection to their employees. We hope this pilot will be a model for other airlines to follow and look forward to continuing to work with industry to protect Canadians as our country returns to its normal working and travel schedules."

The technology behind TraceSCAN was developed in partnership with leading minds at the University of Waterloo.

"TraceSCAN is an AI-powered solution for contact tracing in the workplace which can track staff exposure to COVID-19 without GPS information. The technology provides a risk-based assessment of an individual's exposure within dynamic and dense work environments. The technology enables the creation and management of safer work environments needed during this critical phase of the pandemic," said William Melek, University of Waterloo mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor.

Last month, Air Canada announced that it is in including complimentary COVID-19 emergency medical and quarantine insurance for eligible customers booking round-trip international flights.

Canada's largest airline says that the coverage is available for new bookings made in Canada from Sept. 17 until Oct. 31, 2020. It provides emergency medical and quarantine insurance designed to give customers added confidence when booking flights and travelling abroad. Find out more, HERE.

Warning: The Canadian government is still advising residents to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments of those destinations that have opened their borders to tourists could impose strict travel restrictions suddenly. International transportation options could be reduced significantly, making it difficult for you to return home. Should you decide to travel despite the advisory, know that you might have to remain abroad longer than you expected.

If you are currently outside Canada or you are returning home, see COVID-19 safety and security advice for Canadians abroad.