International companies have begun to show an interest in an armband developed for workers which helps enforce social distancing rules.
The armband was developed by Rombit, an Antwerp company that specialises in digital applications for maritime services, port terminals and petrochemical plants.
It consists of a bracelet based on an existing safety armband, which gives off a signal when it comes within a certain distance of another bracelet. Calibrated to a distance of 1.5m, the Covid Radius bracelet ensures no breach of social distancing rules in the workplace, even inadvertently.
The bracelet works without an internet connection. The only requirement is that every worker must wear one.
The company stresses, in addition, that the armband offers complete privacy: no information is transmitted to the employer regarding the location of the wearer at any time.
It can, however, store information on which other workers came within a distance of 2.5m, even if not involved in any alarm, to help with contact tracing in the event someone becomes infected.
“The new 1.5 metre economy depends on reliable aids,” said Rombit CEO John Baekelmans. “We are therefore making huge efforts to get the modified bracelet onto the mass market in large quantities, so that we can contribute towards getting the economy safely restarted. There is already great international interest.”
The Port of Antwerp already uses the original armband on which the Covid Radius is based, which protects port workers who come too close to a crane or other machinery. The Port Authority is keen to test the new variant, and has ordered several hundred examples for delivery when the armband becomes available in May.
“Innovation and digital transformation are crucial in times of crisis such as these,” said Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren. “It is essential to keep the port operational, and to ensure that our employees can work safely. We therefore see great potential in this solution and will shortly start trials with a team of operatives.”
Now others are showing an interest.
“In the past 48 hours, we have received orders from more than 25 companies from Europe, the US and the Middle East,” said Baekelmans. “Some want 500, others 1,000. One immediately wanted 2,000.”