Qatar’s first independent innovations center, Qatar Mobility Innovations Centre (Qmic) is producing an innovative mechanism that will be made available by July to implement efficient quarantine measures for people coming to the country.
Dr. Hamid Menouar, Product Manager, Qmic states that ‘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.”
The project is one of the awardees of the Rapid Response Call (RRC) announced by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a Qatar Foundation entity that is set up to support Qatar combat of COVID-19. With the demands of Qatar and the health and safety of its people as its precedence, QNRF created the RRC from scratch in record time and expedited the evaluation and funding phases to ensure that the intended outcomes of awarded projects are met as soon as possible.
Under the inaugural cycle of RRC, QNRF accepted 230 proposals from researchers across Qatar, and, after a thorough competitive scientific and technical review process, 21 research proposals were chosen to receive funding and the Qmic project is one among them. Researchers are bestowed with grants worth up to $27,463 each and granted three months’ time to finish their projects.
Dr. Menouar stated 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.”
The Qmic authority stated that it was pretty easy at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure quarantine for the people as the cases were very less. ‘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 traveling to our country too. People who are coming to the country will have to undergo mandatory quarantine. Our new product makes the 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 affirmed that this solution has all the mechanisms to understand 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 reinforcing that a person respects the quarantine process. It makes sure that the system works as an end to end solution in place, he maintained.
The product is to enter 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 following an efficient quarantine, Dr. Menouar appended.
The RRC call intends to support 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.