COVID-related Employee Proximity Monitoring without Privacy Trade-Offs
EmbedTek, LLC, a technology (IoT) company specializing in the design and manufacture of embedded computer systems, software, sensors, and integrated displays, announced today that it has developed a peer-to-peer social distancing and contact tracking device. The device, called PariRange™, can be used by businesses to support the health and safety of its workforce without the concern for breach of privacy.
EmbedTek will be demonstrating PariRange™ to interested parties soon and will move into production in Q3 this year. The technology also can be an embedded design to fit ergonomically into protective equipment or work accessories such as a face shield, hardhat, ID badge and wrist band. A provisional patent detailing the invention was submitted this week.
PariRange™ collects and communicates data in a peer-to-peer fashion between each contact tracking device. It is an innovative breakthrough that solves multiple barriers other publicized contact tracking methods face:
PariRange™ uses peer to peer communication methodology that does not require a network such as WiFi or cellular. It does not track an employee’s location, movements, or productivity throughout the day. It only tracks when one device comes into a set distance range of another device.
It does not require any type of infrastructure in order to collect and recall information. So it can be used in work environments where there is no central WiFi network, such as farming and construction.
Time of flight technology is used to accurately estimate distance between two people within inches and does not rely on the signal strength of radio frequency which is a major improvement over Bluetooth alternatives.
A Critical Need
Social distancing is proven to slow the spread of pathogens, but is not completely effective because of its dependence on human behavior. If an employee gets sick – with COVID-19 or another communicable disease – it may be difficult to determine the other employees that may be at risk.
Businesses have to know who was in close contact with the infected employee while working, at lunch, or on break. EmbedTek’s proximity tracking system provides that information immediately to help protect others, prevent further infection, and maintain the operation of the facility.
“Businesses with large numbers of employees working in close contact with each other are in a difficult position,” said Dan Aicher, CEO of EmbedTek, LLC. “For food processors and manufacturers, for example, initial infections that were not contained have spread throughout facilities, endangering employees and shutting down essential portions of the supply chain. It is critical that these facilities are able to open safely and respond quickly and effectively to future COVID-19 cases that occur within their work community.”
EmbedTek is itself an essential business, supplying electronic equipment to essential businesses in the healthcare, government, communication and financial services industries. Executives have implemented their own health and safety protocol to prevent the spread of infection. However, it was Michael Best & Friedrich LLP who presented the depth of issues occurring within its client base that made Kent Tabor, CTO of EmbedTek, and his creative engineering team spring into action.
“Our clients are concerned about the health and safety of their workforce, and in maintaining safe operations during this crisis. Even with the best precautions within their facility, someone may be exposed to COVID-19 at home, or elsewhere,” said Chuck Palmer, Employment Law Attorney with Michael Best. “Responding effectively to a case of COVID-19 within their workforce to minimize its spread is critical to our clients. An effective way to be able to identify close contacts of an individual that is sick and isolate them quickly would be very helpful.”
EmbedTek was able to rapidly prove and demonstrate the technology due to past innovations involving sensors, device communication, distance measurement, and platform development.
“We have leveraged technology that we’ve developed for other applications. That allowed us to apply it to this problem, confirm its effectiveness and bring it to market during this crisis,” said Tabor. “PariRange is accurate, effective and easy to implement quickly in a facility.”
Following are the technical benefits of the PariRange™ proximity tracking system.
Enforce Social Distancing
With PariRange™, each individual in the work environment – such as a food processing facility – is equipped with a monitoring device set with an acceptable contact range. In the case of preventing the spread of the coronavirus, the threshold would be 6 feet or more. PariRange™ detects and logs events where it came into a contact range with another individual wearing the device. It can send a warning signal to the individual encouraging them to increase their distance.
Easily Extract Data
Data can be collected from PariRange™ whenever a business wants to view it. Some businesses may remain incident-driven, where they collect the contact tracking information once an infection has been confirmed. Others may want to automatically upload device data at an anchor point at the end of each shift. All that is needed to extract data from each device is a laptop, or other device, with ultra-wideband (UWB) connectivity through a simple USB.
Proactively Monitor Symptoms of Infection
Some businesses may want to put an infrastructure in place so they can monitor real time. They can track when devices are in contact range over the UWB connection. In applications where PariRange™ is integrated into protective equipment, additional sensors can measure temperature and detect coughing.
Immediately Identify the Spread of Exposure
The data collected and stored by PariRange™ will be useful for identifying the particular employees that may have come into contact with an individual who tests positive for a disease to allow rapid intervention. It’s also useful for excluding employees that did not have contact with the infected individual so that the facility may continue to operate safely. Only those individuals at risk need to be removed from the population of the facility for safety.
EmbedTek is accepting inquiries for PariRange™ devices as well as custom integrations for protective equipment and wearable accessories. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the PariRange product here.