Creating and sharing knowledge for telecommunications

CovidMonitor: an app to track Covid-19´s transmission

on 24-05-2020

... A Consortium composed of Faculdade de Engenharia of the University of Porto (FEUP), IT, Instituto de Saúde Pública of the University of Porto (ISPUP) and Faculdade de Psicologia e Ciências da Educação of the University of Porto (FPCEUP) is launching an app called “CovidMonitor”, whose main objective is to increase knowledge about the environmental transmission of Covid-19 and to validate the usefullness of warning users about locations they´ve been, where the potential risk of infection is higher. Having gathered a research team that is very experienced in analyzing geo-location trajectories for mobility analysis, the project was already approved for funding through FCT´s “Research4Covid19”.

It was after reading a publication the prestigious Science, about the vírus propagation models and how technologies can help booth to better understand these propagation mechanisms and help health services to increase their efficiency, that Ana Aguiar (IT/FEUP), the project coordinator, decided to chanell the know-how acquired from developing the SenseMyCity platform (, to develop an app that could track the environmental transmission of Covid-19. “Since I work with extracting GPS data information, I thought that our platform, together with our know-how in real data processing and information extraction would be very useful”, explains Ana Aguiar.

The distinguishable feature in the CovidMonitor app is that “its main objective is to collect spatial information to enable the spatial analysis mentioned in the Science article”, says Ana Aguiar. That is, this will not be an app just to collect symptomatology data or for close contact-tracing through BLE (Bluetooth low-energy).

“In this project we intend to improve the knowledge about environmental transmission and to be able to parameterize with more granularity the virus transmission models more regularly, providing the user with a kind of self-surveillance indicator, through the evaluation and detailed analysis of the specificities of each location (type of activity, its size, the time people are in those places, etc.) which will then allow aggregated statistics on risk behaviors to be obtained ”, explains Ana Aguiar. Additionally, the research team also wants to obtain aggregated statistics on the risk behaviors and emotional state of people at different stages of the pandemic, which imply different types of mobility, also dependent on the users' profession. For this, the application also collects data on hygiene and risk behaviors.

Finally, besides promoting self-surveillance and raising awareness to the importance of adopting measures of social distance, the app also allows people to use the collected data to help more accurately recall their recent history if tested positive.

The application is already available on the Google Play Store:

HelicalMETA: Searching for the key to control light

on 18-05-2020

... Controlling and manipulating light is one of the greatest challenges of current and future technologies. The HelicalMETA project addresses this issue by taking advantage of two major recent breakthroughs in the field of photonics: metamaterials and topological protection. Metamaterials, artificial structures composed of building blocks smaller than the wavelength of the involved radiation, offer unprecedented control over electromagnetic radiation. Their electromagnetic response, which depends on appropriate design, can surpass optical effects found in nature, and enable exotic phenomena and effects such as negative refraction or perfect lensing. On the other hand, topology, a branch of mathematics that studies the properties of shapes under continuous transformations, has recently emerged as a novel route to engineer the flow of light. Using insights from topology, researchers have developed photonic platforms that are insulating in the bulk but allow light to flow along their edges or surfaces without scattering, even around corners and imperfections.

The aim of this project is the demonstration of several key functionalities for the control and manipulation of light, including subwavelength imaging, sensing, and topological properties, provided by a helical-shaped wire metamaterial formed by an array of parallel metallic spirals (see image). Findings will enable the development of novel imaging devices, and may also have applications in magnetic resonance imaging, sensing, and scattering-immune waveguiding.

The HelicalMETA research project is an internal IT project involving the Antennas and Propagation Groups from Coimbra (Tiago A. Morgado, David E. Fernandes and Sylvain Lannebère) and Lisboa (Paloma A. Huidobro and Filipa R. Prudêncio).