As parts of Europe reopen and employees head back to work, questions remain about minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission on the job. To address concerns about maintaining social distance, the Belgian start-up Lopos has introduced a new wearable called SafeDistance. This device measures the space between employees and alerts the wearers when they get too close to one another.

Employees can wear the small, lightweight device on a belt or lanyard, and adjust the settings to meet relevant company or public health guidelines for social distancing. SafeDistance employs Lopos ultra-wideband (UWB) technology to communicate between individual device sensors. It vibrates and emits an alarm sound when wearers move closer than the selected distance.

SafeDistance harnesses unique UWB technology developed through a partnership between R&D trailblazer Imec and Ghent University, both based in Belgium. The partnership created Lopos as a spinoff company to bring this advanced technology to market. The accuracy of Lopos’ UWB falls within an error margin of less than 15cm, a substantial improvement over Bluetooth, which has an error margin of 2-5 meters.

SafeDistance doesn’t require a smartphone app and doesn’t save any data The system has performed well in pilot programs and received praise from both employers and employees. Lopos sees SafeDistance as a tool with benefits for a broad range of users, including hospitals, universities, manufacturing companies, construction sites, long-term care centers, and eventually, the general public. Lopos will roll-out full-scale market sales of the device beginning May 27th, 2020.

Even as the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic shifts for some Europeans, maintaining social distance during reopening is crucial to prevent new outbreaks. Right now, SafeDistance offers reassurance as people return to onsite jobs. Soon, the widespread use of the device could also ease the worries of individuals who wish to enjoy parks, museums, shopping areas, and other public facilities.