‘Armband’ to keep COVID-19 at (arm’s) length


Eindhoven Philips Stadion Image: thisiseindhoven

Philips Stadium in the Netherlands is all set to trial an ingenious technology which will facilitate the return of fans to venues amid the COVID-19 pandemic which is still causing devastation in several parts of the world.

The Philips Stadium is a football stadium in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and it is the home venue of PSV, also known as PSV Eindhoven. With a capacity of 35,000, it is the third-largest football stadium in the country. PSV Eindhoven is a sports club from Eindhoven, Netherlands, that plays in Eredivisie, the top tier in Dutch football.

Media reports stated that the trial will take place during a PSV friendly match at Philips Stadium in August, which will be attended by around 5,000 supporters. The ‘Brainport-armband’ is designed to allow the wearer to quickly know if they have been in close contact with someone who has been infected by COVID-19 – be it in the stands or in a concert hall.

The tender processes run by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Digital) for the project has reportedly been won by a consortium of companies from across the Netherlands The association of companies has been supported by PSV and partners in Brainport Eindhoven, a technology region in which companies, Governments and educational institutions work in tune. These partners include Philips, ASML, High Tech Campus, VDL and Jumbo. The Eindhoven company Ideas to the Market (ItoM), founded by former Philips engineers, is one of the leaders of the consortium.

PSV has been examining several ways to allow the return of fans once again to the stadium fold at the earliest possible. PSV previously initiated consultations with all technological partners in Eindhoven to try to achieve a corona-proof stadium as quickly as possible.

Asserted PSV Commercial Director Frans Janssen, “The virus has not disappeared, so it was concluded that this is not possible. This new system can be incredibly useful to us and organizers of other events. It will be presented to the Executive Council of the Municipality of Eindhoven soon.”

The success of the ‘Brainport-armband’ will also depend on how disciplined the users are. It is completely anonymous and claims to comply with all privacy legislation. Apart from football matches, music concerts, festivals and the theater, its developers say it could also be used on public transport.

The costs are low, and according to experts, the bracelets comply with all privacy legislation and there is no need to create a central database of wearers.

The companies have compared the ‘Brainport-armband’ to ‘egg of Columbus’. In August, the strap will be tested on a large scale. Large-scale introduction in full house stadiums or at festivals will be feasible in September and October.

Carriers are in contact with each other unnoticed via the strap. The bracelets regularly send signals with a code, which measures whether they have been often and close to each other. If the latter is the case, they register each other’s identification code. If one of the carriers is infected with the fatal respiratory disease, the GGD sends a warning signal to carriers of other bands that were near the infected person. An LED light then lights up on their bracelet and the advice is to stay indoors for a few days and go for a coronavirus test.

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