Your Phone May be Gossiping About Your Health Behind Your Back

The Patent Forecast® has identified a number of surprising companies that have entered the fight against COVID-19 over the past year. This phenomenon, which the Patent Forecast® refers to as the Pandemic Pivot™, has led party planners to start producing masks and has led HVAC manufacturers to focus on using air filtration to stop the spread of COVID-19 indoors. The latest Pandemic Pivot comes from Georgetown University, which was recently issued a patent on “detecting COVID-19 using surrogates.” Contrary to what one might expect from the title, the patent does not concern the use of expecting mothers to sniff out the virus. Instead, the application concerns using sensor data from a user device (such as your smartphone) to detect symptoms of the virus. If your phone finds that you are sick, then it figures out all the other user devices in the area, marks down their identities, and then informs them of the issue. One day, you might be walking down the street and receive a ping warning you that your neighbor is a viral vector!

Typically, an innovation like this would warrant a look at the relationships that Georgetown has with other wearable device manufacturers, software companies, and global health organizations to which it may license the technology. Here, however, it is worth noting that one of the inventors, Ophir Frieder, is a professor at Georgetown University, but also is Chief Scientific Officer of a company called Invaryant, Inc. On its website, Invaryant describes itself as “aggregat[ing] data to facilitate the discovery of COVID-19 solutions,” suggesting that it is looking at technology remarkably close to the subject of the recently granted patent. It’s possible that Frieder is obligated to assign his inventions to the university and that these inventions could be assigned to Invaryant at a later date. Either way, it’s worth looking at Invaryant and Frieder’s team for new ways to handle health data in the COVID-19 world.

For more developments regarding COVID-19 and the technological infrastructure built to fight it, check out our free Patent Forecast® for Pandemics.

Mobile Phone, Mobile, Phone, Technology, Communication