By Joseph Campbell
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Each morning before work at a Singapore construction site, Gunasekar Udayakumar, 41, gets his vital signs checked, without going to a clinic, or even seeing a nurse.
All he needs is his smartphone, which in just 45 seconds can tell him his heart rate, oxygen levels and even his stress levels.
It can also tell him if he should see a doctor.
The application, developed by Singapore startup Nervotec, is what construction firm Kajima considers its first line of defence against another outbreak of the coronavirus in Singapore.
The city-state has kept a tight lid on its infections and wants to avoid a repeat of last year, when a series of clusters emerged in migrant worker dormitories.
Kajima staff at various sites have used the application since December as part of a government-initiated programme that provides companies with trial-stage technology to help them adjust to the new pandemic-era norms.
It offers a diagnosis of the user’s health condition, relying solely on a smartphone camera that can measure heart rate by picking up changes in the reflectivity of light on the user’s skin between heart beats according to blood flow underneath.
Nervotec founder Jonathan Lau said Singapore’s government was very interested in the technology.
“We see the most traction coming from healthcare providers, both private and public,” he said.
Lau’s initial inspiration came from his experiences as an air force pilot, when he underwent constant check-ups.
He eventually founded a company that used wearable devices to monitor pilots. But when the pandemic hit, Lau broadened the focus.
The app is still undergoing local review and Chwee Teck Lim, director of the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Health Innovation and Technology, said it could have a big impact if approved by regulators
“What Nervotec is proposing could potentially be a game-changer,” Lim said.
(Editing by Martin Petty and Alexandra Hudson)