High-tech COVID: Robot masks and new Covid Alert application in Canada | Item

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Your coronavirus news for the week

Face masks aren’t exactly the easiest things to make fashionable and cool.

But what if they were robotic?

That’s the approach taken by Japanese startup Donut Robotics, with a new robotic face mask straight out of a sci-fi movie.

According to the company, the C-Face “smart mask” fits just like a regular face mask, but it’s connected via Bluetooth and can translate anything you say into eight different languages.

Due to the breathing holes, the C-Face mask itself does not provide protection against COVID-19, but can be worn over any other standard face mask. (Image credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)

The white plastic mask connects to your smartphone and allows users to make calls or speak text messages directly in the mask, and can amplify the user’s voice.

The engineers at Donut Robotics came up with the idea while trying to think of a product that could be effective enough to keep their business afloat during the pandemic.

For now, the masks won’t be available in Japan until September, but the company hopes to start selling them overseas as early as April 2021 for around US $ 40 each.

The COVID Alert app is here, but not everyone is on board

Speaking of high tech, have you heard of Canada’s new COVID notification app?

Last Friday, the Canadian government launched the COVID Alert app, which sends an alert to users if they are near someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

As of now, the app is only available in Ontario. The federal government said it was in talks with other provinces to adopt the app.

Alberta has already launched a similar application.

The COVID Alert app is voluntary and becomes more effective as people use it. As of Sunday, 1.18 million people had downloaded the app. (Image credit: Nicola MacLeod / CBC)

How it works?

The app shares Bluetooth data with nearby phones to find out who you’ve been in contact with.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, their public health authority gives them a unique key to insert into the app.

The app then sends notifications to all phones that are within two meters of the infected person’s phone for at least 15 minutes in the previous 14 days, provided they also have the app.

Confidentiality concerns

The government said the app does not track your location or personal information, but has been concerned that the app is not 100% anonymous.

Although several privacy experts have endorsed the app and say it is mostly secure, the anonymity has raised some concerns. (Image credit: Health Canada)

Although highly unlikely, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has said it is possible that some people who test positive for COVID-19 could be identified, especially those who live in small communities or who do not interact with many others.

Accessibility issues

Additionally, the app is not accessible to everyone, as it requires users to have Apple or Android phones made within the past five years and a relatively new operating system.

According to Christopher Parsons, senior research associate at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, this is a problem because phones are expensive and marginalized groups – like blacks, Indigenous people and people with disabilities – are less likely to be able to afford a newer phone. phone.

In addition to that, Parson said these marginalized groups were also the most affected by COVID-19.

It’s not yet clear when these issues will be resolved, but Parsons said better access is essential because 65 to 80 percent of Canadians need to use the app for it to be effective.

Want to see how successful Canada is in flattening the curve? Check out the Canada curve every week to find out.

The Canadian curve graph shows daily new cases over the past few months, with a recent slight increase in cases.

Remember the goal is for this line to keep going down. Click here to find out more. (Graphic design by Allison Cake / CBC)


With files from Nick Wells / The Canadian Press, Elizabeth Thompson / CBC and Reuters.
TOP PHOTO CREDIT: (Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters, Health Canada)

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