Tech companies target temperature-monitoring patches for COVID-19

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – A group of tech companies is working on a patch about the size of small bandage that could be worn to monitor for the elevated body temperatures that can sometimes signal the onset of COVID-19.

The patch would be powered by a specially designed microchip that will be made in Minnesota at a chip factory operated by SkyWater Technology in collaboration with Ohio-based chip design firm Linear ASICs and New York investment firm Asymmetric Return Capital. The patch is intended to be worn on the skin and to connect wirelessly to a smart phone to monitor a person’s body temperature, the companies said.

The group aims to produce a device to monitor temperatures remotely that can be manufactured in high volumes.

“This will be especially important as we head into flu season later this year,” Bryan Wisk, a founding partner at Asymmetric Return Capital, said in a statement.

The work is part of a broader partnership with two other firms: Software maker SensiML, a subsidiary of QuickLogic Corp, and Upward Health, a provider of in-home health care.

The companies hope to use artificial intelligence to analyze signals such as the sounds of coughs to identify unique patterns for COVID-19 symptoms. Those findings could then be used create sensor-based systems that could screen for the virus and slow its spread.

“There is tremendous need for better pre-diagnostic screening tools as return-to-work measures are put into place across the U.S. and worldwide,” Chris Rogers, the chief executive of SensiML, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)