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24 Mar, 2021 14:42

Don’t dangle your dongle near me: Singapore tests Bluetooth devices to enforce Covid safe-distance rules at business conference

Don’t dangle your dongle near me: Singapore tests Bluetooth devices to enforce Covid safe-distance rules at business conference

Bluetooth dongles that keep people apart might very well be the new normal for business conferences and other large gatherings, and a Singapore event is testing the technology in a bid to start hosting big events again.

The tech is being used at a business conference in the city state to keep people socially distanced, with delegates carrying pocket-sized dongles to try and prevent Covid spread.

The hi-tech dongles – like modern-day Bluetooth versions of Big Brother technology – keep track of where people are, how long they’ve been in contact with others, and how close people were during their interactions.

The data is automatically uploaded so that the organizers of ‘GEO Connect Asia 2021’ can ensure people stay at least one meter apart. The conference also divided participants into zones to reduce frequency of contact, and the technology might, for example, register a breach if someone is less than a meter apart from someone from another zone for more than 15 minutes.

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Rupert Owen, organizer of the conference, said getting back to normal “is going to be step-by-step, country-by-country, confidence-building exercises.”

Those attending the two-day event are not required to use the movement trackers, which differ from a separate Singapore contact-tracing dongle that shares data only in response to confirmed infections. The delegates also use QR codes and facial recognition technology to register for the gathering.

Health officials in Singapore reported an average of two cases of coronavirus per week recently and the government has vaccinated some 800,000 people with at least one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna jabs.

It has recorded some 60,200 cases of coronavirus in the past year and registered 30 Covid-related deaths.

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