With cruise ships back on the high seas, Royal Caribbean is looking to boost contact-tracing efforts with a new wearable device, called the Tracelet. The effort is born out of a partnership between the cruise line and tech company TraceSafe. While none of the announcements say the tracing will be specifically for COVID-19, it’s a safe bet to assume that exposure to the virus will be one of the key uses.
All guests are required to wear the wristband onboard the ship. The company specifies that anyone who is not willing to wear the device will not be able to come on the cruise. Cruise guests can use the wearable as a room key and as a payment method.
Royal Caribbean isn’t the only cruise company deploying wearable tech, according to TraceSafe, the tech has already been used on six Viking cruises.
WHY IT MATTERS
Currently, the CDC rates cruise ship travel as a Level 3 risk or “High Level of COVID-19.” The agency said that the virus can spread quickly between individuals in close quarters on a ship. Individuals not fully inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, or those at risk of a severe, illness should avoid cruise trips, according to the CDC.
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple cruise ships had outbreaks of the virus. The cruise ship Diamond Princess became a cautionary tale of how the virus could spread. An outbreak on the ship was linked to 700 COVID-19 infections and seven deaths.
THE LARGER TREND
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, scores of companies and governments rolled out contact-tracing efforts. Apple and Google joined forces in May of 2020 on a contract-tracing API.
Countries including Australia, India and Singapore have all rolled out their own contact-tracing apps. However, there have been some bumps along the way for these apps. For example, a vulnerability in Qatar’s COVID-19 app put users’ private information at risk. There have also been privacy concerns from both users and IT professionals.