August 6, 2020

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HKUST develops smart geo-fencing tech for home quarantine

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Researchers of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have developed a novel geofencing technology, offering a smart core solution that helps save the government’s manpower in monitoring those under compulsory home quarantine amid novel pneumonia (COVID-19) outbreak.

With the pandemic spreading quickly across the globe, the Hong Kong government has issued quarantine order on people entering the city from all overseas countries and territories.

As a compliance measure, people under quarantine have been required to regularly report their current real-time locations via instant messaging applications or answer surprise video calls from communication centres.

This approach incurs high monitoring cost to the government and brings much inconvenience to the home confinees.

In order to achieve significantly higher cost-effectiveness, a team of researchers and engineers led by a Professor of the Department of the Computer Science and Engineering and Director of Entrepreneurship Center at HKUST, has innovated and designed an automated geofencing technology called Signature Home.

The core technology has since been licensed to and deployed by Compathnion Technology Limited as a new mobile app called StayHomeSafe.

The app has been used by the public since last week 14 March 2020 as a more resource-efficient and friendly way to monitor people under home quarantine.

Paired with an electronic Bluetooth wristband worn on the quarantined person, the app can accurately detect whether the home confinee is complying with the quarantine order and alerts the relevant authorities if not.

The key idea of Signature Home geo-fencing technology is that the collective signal variations within a certain location are unique to that location, forming its “signature”.

The technology hence collects multifarious environmental signals such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular in the dwelling place as its signature.

If the newly collected signal variation deviates from the signature, it is very likely that the person has left the designated location. By continuously collecting and understanding the change of the basket of signals collected in a place using machine learning and data analytics techniques, Signature Home can intelligently adapt to evolving home environment to achieve accurate monitoring.

The professor who invented another indoor positioning technology which has been widely deployed in shopping malls and hospitals in the Greater Bay Area through Compathnion stated that through such technology innovation, transfer and deployment, research value can be exposed to make an actual social impact.

He found it immensely fulfilling to contribute his home-grown technology back to the community, especially in this critical and challenging time.

The Director and CEO of Compathnion as well as an HKUST graduate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, with the geofencing technology, the app can more effectively safeguard public health.

The company is pleased that the HK government is adopting the solution so that the firm can reciprocate to society in the most meaningful way possible.

Founded in 2015, Compathnion has become a leading company in its field of indoor positioning. It has received numerous awards and was funded by HKUST through the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU) during its incubation period.

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