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CES brings new devices to help stop the spread of COVID-19

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By Jon Swartz

The first all-virtual CES includes a handful of gadgets intended to make next year’s show a return to normal.

High-end masks and touchless technology offer new approaches to existing technology to bring people back to work and, eventually, mass gatherings like CES after COVID-19. The biggest trade show for technology of the year, typically held in Las Vegas, instead launches digitally on Tuesday, with keynotes and announcements beginning Monday.

As the virus keeps exhibitors from meeting with customers in Las Vegas, companies are introducing new protection for face-to-face meetings in the future. A face shield and air-filtration purification system from Seguro, called Airsafe, is expected to cost $300 to $400.

“We are aiming for a higher end of the market,” Seguro Chief Executive Gioni Bianchini told MarketWatch.

Another new device from Seguro is the size of a security badge. Its called Smartspace, and detects when someone is within 6 feet.

Most face shields are cheaper — starting at $100, with annual service contracts at about $60 — and offer a weak first line of defense. Indeed, the market for inexpensive, purpose-built gadgets could reach $105 million by mid-2021, according to WinterGreen Research.

The wearables market worldwide is expected to reach $81.5 billion this year, up 18% from $69 billion in 2020, according to market researcher Gartner in a forecast released Tuesday.

The appetite is there: More than three in four Americans (77%) said they would wear devices at work to enhance safety, according to a poll from Nymi, a workplace wearable company.

Another intriguing product, AirPop’s Active+ Smart Mask, is a $150 phone-connected mask with a Halo sensor that tracks the wearer’s breathing and nearby air quality data. An app lets the wearer know which pollutants and particulates have been blocked, and it can tell the wearer when it’s time to replace mask’s filter.

“Telemedicine and digital health care continue to grow” in presence at CES and wearables aimed at COVID prevention are the latest iteration, Jean Foster, senior vice president of marketing and communications at CTA, which owns and produces CES, told MarketWatch.

The rise of wearables comes amid a pandemic when access to doctors is limited and the public is more vigilant about its health, say industry observers.

“Health tech now is not just preventive, but proactive,” Wendy Johansson, global vice president of experience at Publicis Sapient, a digital-business transformation consultancy, told MarketWatch. “Wearables for a long time felt very elitist. Now, it is really becoming consumer tech.”

Indeed, in the weeks leading up to and after CES, several companies are offering hardware and software solutions to protect employees, consumers and students.

NeuTigers, an artificial intelligence company spun out of Princeton University, introduced in January CovidDeep, a rapid-screening app that is 90% accurate in detecting COVID-19 using wearable sensor data via a wearable device.

In December, BioIntelliSense introduced BioButton system, a coin-sized medical-grade wearable that monitors vital signs for COVID-19 symptoms up to 90 days. It tracks temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate, and is capable of contact tracing.

The Defense Department is among those using BioButton, BioIntelliSense Chief Executive James Mault told MarketWatch.

Freetouch, whose technology makes public touchscreens touchless at Autodesk Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209828392/composite ADSK -2.23% , and at museums at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, Calif. Users scan a QR code that turns their cell phone into a controller.

Another startup, Openpath, has rolled out mobile products with BlueTooth technology that include touchless unlocks for doors, elevators, turnstiles and parking garages.

RealNetworks Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/209663308/composite RNWK +12.92% MaskCheck, announced in late December, is a free app that lets businesses and schools enforce COVID-19 masks. MaskCheck, used at Modern Liquors in Washington, D.C., and at the private Bush School in Seattle, might become a template for front lobbies of companies. RealNetworks already uses it at its Seattle headquarters.

The software can be loaded on a phone or tablet, turning it into a kiosk for mask monitoring. “We envision every city in the world and every public health dashboard using data from MaskCheck as a leading indicator for predicting and mitigating the spread of COVID-19,” says RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser, who compares its impact to highway signs that monitor car speeds to reinforce the speed limit.

/zigman2/quotes/209828392/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 277.92
-6.35 -2.23%
Volume: 1.27M
March 2, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
51.12
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$62.51 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
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/zigman2/quotes/209663308/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 4.72
+0.54 +12.92%
Volume: 1.51M
March 2, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$159.99 million
Rev. per Employee
N/A
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