Back in 2020, we went through an unprecedented event that would change the way we live in many different ways. A lot has been written about the COVID-19 pandemic already. In this post, we want to share a story about how we got our hands-on designing and implementing an application that could be a game-changer in such uncertain times. But before we plunge into the details, let’s do a quick recap on how it all started.
Back in December 2019, we started hearing about China identifying several pneumonia cases due to a novel coronavirus in the Hubei province. There wasn’t much information about it at that time. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) started monitoring it, the rest of the world was celebrating their New Year’s Eve without knowing, yet, the tremendous impact coronavirus would soon have worldwide.
The Beginning of a New Pandemic
Shortly after, by the end of January 2020, there were already 7,818 identified cases across 18 different countries. The virus would spread soon across borders considering how easy it is to travel nowadays and the virus’s high infection rate. This is why the WHO quickly raised awareness and issued recommendations, regarding the early detection and control of new cases.
As we approached March, there were already more than 130,000 total identified cases and unfortunately 3,000 deaths. Some countries started taking measures we would have never imagined before Forcing lockdowns, limiting personal social interaction, restricting mobility and even forcing businesses to close in a desperate move to stabilize the situation. Unfortunately, it was too late already, and as we all know, the cases would continue to grow and expand across the globe in the upcoming months.
The Race Towards Mitigation
Healthcare companies hurried up to run trials to find better treatments and even still to gain a full understanding of the consequences of COVID. In parallel researchers were investigating new ways of rapidly testing the population to avoid further spreading of the virus. Even Google and Apple partnered up to develop a system capable of tracking infections anonymously through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology.
An Unexpected Email
In June, we received a surprising email: we were contacted by Luminostics, a California-based research company with an incredible technology capable of performing rapid antigen tests (detecting virus presence in humans) in under 30 minutes. It rendered excellent results, using a smartphone camera to capture luminescence particles from a nasal swab test.
The statistics were outstanding, throwing much higher efficiency rates (over 90% efficiency on average) over the current point-of-care quick testing methodologies while still delivering results within 30 minutes.
Best of all, their technology could be used to diagnose COVID-19 cases very quickly and accurately, but they were missing one piece, an iPhone app that would handle the tests and serve as a tool for diagnosing more patients more accurately and faster.
There was one non-negotiable requirement. A tough one. A fully working prototype should be completed within a month, as the pandemic’s situation required immediate action. Thanks to Harmony, Mobile Jazz’s very own technology, we were confident to deliver a complete first version on time.
While Luminostics was working on all engines refining their sample processing software, the Mobile Jazz design and engineering teams brought their expertise to build the iPhone application, which would communicate via Bluetooth with the actual hardware processing the sample analysis.
The project required a solid definition of the user experience and an easy-to-use interface for medical staff to process each collected sample. We spent many hours defining and rethinking the best solution possible, ensuring no sample would be lost in the process due to a human error or a software issue.
After a colossal effort of Luminostic’s and our team, we had the first working version of the application ready in just under 30 days.
The test kit became FDA approved for emergency use, to be used actively in hospitals across the United States to diagnose new COVID-19 cases. Since then we have continued to work together with Luminostics to improve the product and will continue helping the healthcare industry in general fighting against the pandemic.
At Mobile Jazz we are always proud to create software for the healthcare industry and we are very thankful for having the trust of multiple medical companies and institutions allowing us to build technology that has an actual positive impact on people’s lives.