Workplace wearables for social distancing continue to make headlines as more and more businesses reopen their operations. Tharsus, a UK-based maker of strategic machines, announced that they have developed a new, comprehensive social-distancing system called Bump. Like other proximity sensors, Bump helps workers maintain a safe distance, minimizing the risk of contracting COVID-19 at work. Bump also collects data that provides employees and employers with information about contact hotspots and facility movement flows.

The complete Bump software and hardware system includes individual wearable devices, free-standing hub units, charging stations, sanitizing stations, location beacons, and optional PPE tags. The wearable uses radiofrequency technology to detect worker proximity and uses sound and lighting alerts when employees get to close to one another.

Sinks fitted with Bump sensors and smart hand sanitizer stations track time between use. Using a customizable schedule, these sensors send individual reminders through the wearable five minutes before a hand sanitizing is due. 

Employees can leave their devices in the charging station overnight, or charge their device at home. Optional PPE tags that clip onto the device allow workers in appropriate PPE to get closer together. A device with a PPE tag won’t send proximity alerts, but still sends sanitizing reminders to the user.

The free-standing Bump hub units, positioned at entrances, operate on their own network and detect when wearers are on the premice. The hubs periodically download encrypted data about contact events between users. Only users and employers have access to Bump’s data and analysis, accessible on a smartphone or computer using an internet browser.

Similar to a home security system, location beacons help monitor high-traffic areas, such as busy workspaces, kitchens, lounge areas, etc. They monitor capacity and contact levels to identify hotspots where transmission of the novel coronavirus has a higher chance of occurring.

Currently, 2,500 Bump systems have been produced for trials in offices, warehouses, laboratories, and other businesses with high employee volume. This is one more example of how technology can be used to help cope with the challenges of the “new normal” in which we need to be more cautious about the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.