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In the wake of the lockdown, businesses are eager to limit the liability for employees and customers and are considering an array of emerging technologies to limit the spread.
FREMONT, CA: These technologies can be segregated into two kinds: one depending on cellphone technologies and the other utilizing wearable devices such as electronic bracelets and watches. Both approaches strive to maintain social distancing, nominally six feet between any two workers on the basis of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and backed by some modeling.
Most of the workers will have little choice of whether to participate in their employer’s risk mitigation.
Social distancing technologies are formulated to warn the workers when they get too close to each other, typically depending on the communications that can travel only short distances. In this way, if a device can “hear” someone else’s device, the user is considered too close to the other person and potentially infected.
Furthermore, the most promising communication technology for social distancing is the ultra-wideband, which allows precise distance measurements between the devices. A more common medium is Bluetooth Low Energy, used for headphones and portable speakers, though it might produce less consistently accurate distance information depending on the environment.
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Finally, the sound can be used to know the distance to other people, similar to what bats uses echoes to identify the obstacles in their flight paths. The advantage is that it respects the wall and door boundaries identical to the coronavirus.
Modern cellphones traditionally can communicate from both Bluetooth Low Energy technologies and sound. Late-model iPhones also support ultra-wideband communications.
Contact tracing apps that are used to alert people when they’ve been exposed to an infected person usually uses these media while loosely adhering to a common design. They include the approaches focusing on privacy and security or precise distance measurements leveraging sound outside of the human hearing range. Recently, Apple and Google jumped into the fray with their approach that also solves a few of the technical challenges that appear to need the cooperation of the two tech giants.
Wearables that are more limited devices, which a person can wear, such as a bracelet or a ring, can be used for social distancing. Popular workplace wearables can be programmed to buzz or alert the employees when they get within six feet of each other.
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