The Ontario government is providing Facedrive Inc. with $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund to accelerate the deployment of its wearable contact tracing technology, TraceSCAN, which alerts users within a workplace who have been in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The company anticipates manufacturing about 150,000 devices under this project and creating 68 new jobs, including software, firmware and hardware engineers and machine learning specialists.
“In our fight against COVID-19, Ontario is continuing to support companies like Facedrive that are developing the innovative technology that adds new layers of defence against this global pandemic,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Through the Ontario Together Fund, we will continue to make sure that companies like Facedrive have the resources they need to supply emergency products and innovative solutions during these challenging times, while creating skilled jobs for our province.”
Facedrive developed TraceSCAN’s made-in-Ontario AI-powered solution, which can track staff exposure to COVID-19 without GPS information, in partnership with the University of Waterloo. Workers simply wear the device and the wearable technology will communicate with others within a workplace environment. If users are less than six feet apart, the device beeps to alert the users. If anyone in the working premises reports COVID-19 positive, HR or health and safety officials can log in to the online reporting dashboard and see who they have been in contact with and their risk level, then send an exposure notification. Contact tracing will be made simple with all of the close proximity contact having been recorded.
The technology is designed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for workplaces and settings where smartphone use is limited or prohibited, such as airlines, schools, construction sites, and long-term care homes. It will add another layer of safety and protection through identification and isolation of new COVID-19 cases, tracing back the interactions and helping to stop the contamination.
TraceSCAN has already been deployed in multiple pilot projects, leading to the successful adoption of the technology in real-world settings. Some of the businesses and organizations that are using TraceSCAN include Air Canada, LiUNA and Waywayseecappo First Nation.
“My door is always open to new and innovative solutions to help keep workers safe during COVID-19,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “Contact tracing technologies have the potential to protect essential workers until the province receives a sufficient number of vaccines. We need more made-in-Ontario solutions to keep workers safe.”
“The continued support of the Ontario Government is very valuable to us at Facedrive, and we are humbled to receive this support facilitating our work to fight COVID-19,” said Sayan Navaratnam, Chairman and CEO of Facedrive. “We are looking forward to working side by side with government institutions in our joint mission to create safe environments for our communities, restart our economy and get workers back on the job. The Ontario Together Fund will be instrumental in helping us grow production volumes, invest in top talent, create jobs and ultimately establish TraceSCAN as a global leader and household name for contact tracing.”
The province’s initial pandemic response was to procure available stock, the majority of which was from international sources. Over the course of the pandemic, efforts to develop Ontario-based production has resulted in a shift to 74 per cent of PPE purchases being domestically produced (by procurement value). Key categories such as N95 respirators, surgical masks, face shields, wipes, disinfectants and hand sanitizer are all domestically produced at production sites in Ontario.
“This is another great local example of the Ontario Spirit at work”, said Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility and MPP for Scarborough North. “With our government’s support, new companies like Facedrive can expand their operation and production of innovative Ontario Made technology, creating jobs and opportunities right here in Scarborough.”
Through the Ontario Together Fund, the government is delivering targeted investments that will increase the province’s stockpile of made-in-Ontario products and PPE. This innovative technology and manufacturing capacity will help the province to combat the current COVID-19 outbreak and prepare for potential challenges in the future, while supporting local businesses during the safe and gradual reopening of the province.