Two tech giants, Apple and Google, are working alongside medical experts in developing a COVID-19 contact tracing application.
Experts believe that one of the most effective way of curbing the spread of coronavirus is through contact tracing. Despite its effective though, contact tracing is extremely difficult and laborious to implement.
Big tech companies are now stepping up to the challenge. Apple and Google are now teaming up with medical experts to develop coronavirus contact tracer.
A handful of employees working on a massive project
What is surprising about Apple’s project is that it is spearheaded by just a handful of employees. The team started working on the project around the middle of March. By the end of the month, Google has joined the project.
The Apple project is codenamed ‘Bubble.’ Despite having only a dozens of employees working on it, the project has gone through a good start. With Google joining the fray, the project is well into its development.
Heading the project are two of Apple’s executive-level employees. These are Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi, and Apple chief operating offer Jeff Williams. The latter is also the de-facto head of Apple healthcare.
Top executives are also showing their support for the project. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have both given their approval of the project.
Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy. We’re working with @sundarpichai & @Google to help health officials harness Bluetooth technology in a way that also respects transparency & consent. https://t.co/94XlbmaGZV
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 10, 2020
A new approach to tracing
Although medical experts are calling it contact tracing, Apple and Google now refer to it as “exposure notification.” The tech giants are thinking that this new term is softer-sounding compared to contact tracing.
One of the many criticism about this proposed coronavirus tracer is data and user privacy. As such, Apple and Google have adopted extreme transparency measures many countries are still reluctant about using their tracer app, but they are gaining traction on that issue.
Germany is now looking to use the coronavirus tracer being developed by Apple and Google. The country is rethinking its approach about the implementation of contact tracing.
The coronavirus contact tracer in development will use either Bluetooth or GPS. Apple and Google are still working on which one will be used primarily.
The development team is working on a decentralized service in order to enhance privacy and transparency. This means that instead of storing user data on a centralized server, they will be stored locally on the user’s smartphone.
Apple and Google are planning to rollout the coronavirus contact tracer app on May 1
Image courtesy of Andy Xu/Unsplash