Design and Analyse a Network Protocol for a Highly-Accurate Ranging System Used in Contact Tracing and Viral Load Monitoring for Preserving Social Distancing Post COVID‑19 Lockdown

Kaddoum, Georges | $49,999

Quebec École de technologie supérieure 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The spread of the COVID‑19 virus has resulted in unprecedented measures restricting people’s movements and activities over the world. In the absence of vaccines, social distancing, which means reducing interactions between individuals, is the most effective way to slow down the spread of the virus. For the past weeks, many efforts have been surged for developing tools to monitor or reinforce social distancing. These solutions are enabled by the use of smartphone applications or wristbands to allow monitoring social contacts and raise an alert when the 2-meter safety zone is breached. All solutions use Bluetooth technology to evaluate the distance between users. This accuracy is not enough to provide a safe environment for workers. Furthermore, simple contact tracing does not give enough information to monitor the risk encounters by individuals. In order to provide a safe environment, we need to monitor the viral load, which is a function of the inverse of the square of the distance and of the dwell time.

The goal of this project is to develop a network protocol adapted to the SPARK radio and the contact tracing environment in order to enable accurate viral load monitoring. SPARK Microsystems has developed a unique short-range wireless transceiver Integrated Circuit that provides accurate ranging at low efficiency (1 nJ/bit). The network protocol should be very efficient in order to maximize battery life. It should also allow to discover other devices rapidly to minimize latency. The outcome of the project will be a network protocol that SPARK will use to deploy its contact tracing and viral load monitoring system. This project will enable SPARK to launch an efficient and accurate tool to monitor the safety of a large group of Canadians.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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