Christopher F. Schuetze, New York Times
Since the Covid-19 Virus is mainly transmitted by aerosols, the highest risk of being infected is when one infected person is in close contact to a noninfected one. There are two main ways to reduce the transmission of the virus by aerosol droplets: 1.) wearing masks and 2.) to maintain a safe distance between both individuals (social distancing). Both require discipline from everybody involved, which is difficult to enforce. Therefore, to be on the safe side governments have ordered so called lock downs to efficiently avoid contacts that allow transmission of the Covid 19 viruses. The German Startup company Kinexon has developed a wearable sensor system based on measuring distance using ultra-broadband signals, initially designed to avert collisions between forklifts and workers on high-traffic factory floors. The system’s sensors would automatically stop a forklift if it got too close to a worker. This technology has been modified and used to control social distancing of workers in a factory. This would be a way to keep business working despite the covid-19 pandemic.
Henkel, a German company producing Detergents tested this device with the entire staff in a plant in Poland, where250 workers work three shifts a day to making and packaging powdered and liquiddetergents. The sensors were worn either as a wrist band or on a lanyard andwere programmed to go off when two people were within 1.5 meters, roughly sixfeet, of each other for more than five seconds SafeZone makes a chime and flashes when anothersensor is within a prescribed distance for a set period Workers had quicklygotten used to wearing the device on their wrist. It helped them to maintainsocial distancing in a fast moving production line.
Adrian Wycisk, the plant’s manager, compared the sensors’ chimes to the alert in cars when people haven’t put on theirseatbelts. “It ultimately changes the behavior in drivers,” he said, addingthat he has seen a marked improvement in workers’ keeping a safe distance.
The system stores, for several weeks,information on when a worker was near other workers — a potentially useful toolfor tracing interactions if a worker becomes infected, but one that raises worries about management’s keeping tabs on a worker’s movements all shift long.
During the 6 weeks test, no worker tested positive for Covid-19.
SOURCE: Christopher F. Schuetze. NewYorkTimes.Photos: Anna Liminowicz, for The New York Times Jan 12 2021