By now, the majority of the population are already aware of the dos and don'ts to prevent COVID-19 infections. Perhaps the most notable ones are frequent hand washing and social distancing. However, another habit that experts want people to stop is touching their faces. In fact, this might be difficult since individuals do so instinctively without even consciously thinking about it. Thus, NASA is proposing an innovative solution called the Pulse, which can supposedly notify users the moment they attempt to touch their face.
Although the wearable device is still in its early stages, it is evident that the engineers wanted to make it as inconspicuous as possible. Instead of using a wrist-based configuration, the wearable is in the form of a pendant, which can be attached to most types of necklaces. NASA purportedly does not have plans to sell these, but will make the blueprint available for anyone who wants to build it.
The government agency said, "We hope individuals or companies will replicate, refine or enhance PULSE and make it easily available for distribution." To make it even more accessible for those who want it, the project will require a 3D printer, a small motor, wiring, and other materials. NASA issues a reminder that its open-source concept is not intended to replace personal protective equipment such as face shields and masks.
Instead, it will function as a warning system to change the user's habits. "The haptic feedback from a vibration motor simulates a nudge, reminding the wearer to avoid touching these entryways in order to reduce potential infection," explains NASA.
The folks from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) wanted to create a low-cost platform that could detect motion and alert the user discretely. Given that the 2019 novel coronavirus can infect a person via respiratory droplets that enter through the nostrils or mouth, a person's hand can deliver it exactly where it wants to go.
The Pulse uses a 3D printed case that houses a coin vibration motor, a slide switch, a 3V coin-cell battery, and an infrared proximity sensor. The latter is responsible for detecting movement in order to trigger the programmed action.