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Wichita tech company develops social-distancing alert app.

(KWCH)
Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 8:57 PM CDT
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A Wichita tech company turns to smartphones to improve people's practice of social distancing.

Viaanix, Inc. is developing an app designed to alert you if you break the six-feet-of-separation rule.

"It's a human tendency. You forget, you come close, and you talk, and it doesn't matter who it is," says Viaanix, Inc. CEO Jatin "Jay" Talreja.

With that tendency no longer wise to practice because of COVID-19, Viaanix is using its expertise to respond.

Usually, a focus for the tech development and manufacturing company is inventory management. The focus shifted to developing the Social Distancing Alert app over the past few weeks.

"We have been working 24/7 around the clock." Talreja says, "Trying to push this out."

Talreja says Viaanix is working on two tiers of the app.

One is for the general public they expect to release next week, free for Apple and Android devices.

It relies on phones' Bluetooth to maintain the six-feet of social distancing and help notify you when that distance is less than the recommendation.

"Phone goes to red and says I'm within six feet of that particular person," says Talreja.

Talreja says they built the apps, so it wouldn't require them to need people's personal information.

"We do not collect any information from the user," Talreja says. "We do not collect any information from the phone. We do not send any data from the phone to the cloud for this consumer user."

The other version in development is for enterprise use at hospitals, businesses and government.

The design would allow for contact tracing on worksites, meaning if one employee tests positive for COVID-19, they can identify other workers who might have been exposed.

It would use technology like Bluetooth chips found in employee key cards.

Talreja says, "They can monitor them more closely, saying are you guys seeing any symptoms or anything like that."

Talreja says access to the system would be limited to a handful of people at a business and would require a small amount of employee information.

"If I'm an employer and I buy this for my employees, then I already have their first names, I already have their last names, I have their email addresses. These are kinds of things we need to be a unique identifier," says Talreja.

He adds at hospitals, it can be used to alert employees to where and when they need PPE.

"We're alerting the hospital employees saying, you're too close to a suspected patient, please make sure you're wearing all personal protective devices, mask, whatever that maybe before you go any closure. This restricts them from coming directly in contact with the patient," Talreja says.

Even when businesses and the state open back up, social distancing isn't expected to disappear. A report out Wednesday from Havard suggests the practice could need to continue through 2022. That's if no vaccine becomes available.

"It is my understanding it will be in waves, and we have to do our best to keep our family safe, our kids safe, keep our environment safe, and keep our co-workers safe," says Talreja. "This app would be tremendously useful to everyone out there at the end of the day."

Information on the

app can be found on their website. They are looking for financial backing to help with further development of the app.