Augmenting the efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the Qatar Mobility Innovations Centre (Qmic) is developing an innovative mechanism that will be made available by July to enforce efficient quarantine measures for people coming to the country.
“We have developed a smart bracelet that acts as a virtual link between the user and their smartphone. Our project tackles the quarantine enforcement issue, which will be relevant in the coming months on account of Covid-19,” Dr Hamid Menouar, product manager, Qmic, told Gulf Times.
The project is one of the awardees of the Rapid Response Call (RRC) announced by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) - a Qatar Foundation entity - to help Qatar combat Covid-19. With the needs of Qatar and the health and safety of its people as its priority, QNRF developed the RRC from scratch in record time, and accelerated the evaluation and funding phases to ensure that the proposed outcomes of awarded projects are met as soon as possible.
Under the inaugural cycle of RRC, QNRF received 230 proposals from researchers across Qatar, and, after a thorough competitive scientific and technical review process, 21 research proposals were selected to receive funding and the Qmic project is one among them. Researchers are awarded grants worth up to QR100,000 each and given three months’ time to complete their projects.
Dr Menouar said that certain technical aspects of the solution cannot be disclosed at this stage but the end product will be ready in a month’s time.
“The bracelet is not designed to sense any health characteristics, but is only used for making sure that the user is physically close to their smartphone. By monitoring the location of the smartphone, we can ensure if the user is abiding by quarantine measures through a cost-effective mechanism,” he explained.
According to the Qmic official, it was pretty easy at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure quarantine for the people as the cases were very few. “In case this pandemic continues for a long time and as experts say if there is another wave of the pandemic around the world as people start to travel around, many will be travelling to our country too. People who are coming to the country will have to undergo mandatory quarantine. Our new product makes quarantine process more effective and will ensure that people stick to quarantine rules and follow an efficient quarantine process,” he pointed out.
Dr Menouar also maintained that this solution has all the mechanism to know that people respect the quarantine and it also complements the Ehteraz application.
“Ehteraz, a contact tracing application, has also the facility to identify quarantine status. Our solution complements Ehteraz in monitoring and enforcing that a person respects the quarantine process. It makes sure that the system works as an end to end solution in place,” he continued.
The product is to reach the advanced stage very soon and the solution can go onto production by the middle of July.
“Qatar’s airport will be open soon (for regular air traffic) and that could be a crucial time as people coming in could be infected with the disease. To avoid another wave of Covid-19, a very efficient quarantine system is necessary and this where we see this solution fits in perfectly. This solution, is cost effective and can be used to ensure that people coming to the country follow an efficient quarantine,” Dr Menouar added.
The RRC call aims to encourage researchers to participate in providing impactful and innovative solutions on a fast-track basis, through research projects that support Qatar’s efforts to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects.