Bluetooth SIG to Extend Reach of COVID-19 Exposure Notification Systems

Effort underway to standardize support for wearable devices in smartphone-based Exposure Notification Systems  

KIRKLAND, Wash. – 18 August, 2020 – The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced that work is underway to create a specification that will enable wearable devices to participate in an existing smartphone-based Exposure Notification System (ENS). By extending an ENS to include wearables, such as wristbands, it can better address population groups where smartphone usage remains low, including children in primary school and older adults living in care facilities. An initial draft of the specification is expected to be released and available for review within the next few months. 

Typically deployed by government health agencies, all public ENSs to date have used Bluetooth® technology already embedded in smartphones to notify people when they have been in close contact with someone who was later diagnosed with COVID-19. Due to their broad adoption, smartphones represent an ideal foundation for launching an ENS. However, smartphones alone are not a practical approach to cover all segments of the population. 

“There are several population groups critical to managing the spread of diseases like COVID-19 with relatively low smartphone penetration, presenting a coverage challenge for smartphone-based Exposure Notification Systems,” said Elisa Resconi, a physics professor at the Technical University of Munich now leading research on non-pharmaceutical interventions against COVID-19. “We believe including wearable devices in an ENS would be a very effective method for extending its reach to support these important groups.” 

Recognizing this need, more than 130 Bluetooth member companies have joined the Bluetooth SIG Exposure Notification Working Group (ENWG) to define a standardized method for adding support for wearable devices while preserving the same privacy and security protections of the ENS. The ENWG is open to all Bluetooth SIG member companies and serves as a centralized forum for discussion on the effective use of Bluetooth technology in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.  

“It is incredibly inspiring to see the Bluetooth community’s collaboration in finding and creating innovative ways to leverage Bluetooth technology to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Powell, CEO of the Bluetooth SIG. “We are grateful for the dedication and commitment of the Bluetooth members and proud of their work on this important effort.”   

For information on the importance of adding wearables to an ENS and to stay informed when drafts of the specification are released, visit

About the Bluetooth SIG 
Formed in 1998, the Bluetooth SIG is the not-for-profit trade association that oversees Bluetooth® technology. In support of more than 35,000 member companies, the Bluetooth SIG facilitates the collaboration of its members to create new and enhanced specifications that expand the technology, drives global interoperability via a world-class product qualification program, and grows the brand by increasing the awareness, understanding, and adoption of Bluetooth technology. 

About Bluetooth Technology
Included in more than 4 billion products shipped each year, Bluetooth technology is the global standard for simple, secure wireless connections. Since its formation in 1998, the Bluetooth community has continued to expand the capabilities of Bluetooth — powering innovation, creating new markets, and redefining communication worldwide. Today, Bluetooth is the wireless technology of choice for developers in many solution areas, including audio streaming, data transfer, location services, and large-scale device networks. 

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