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Keep your distance

Prototype wearable device put through its paces at AkzoNobel site

A prototype for a wearable device which helps employees to follow social distancing guidelines has been successfully tested at one of AkzoNobel’s sites in Belgium.

Developed by Lopos and set to be commercialized under the name SafeDistance, the configurable technology embedded in the device activates an audible and vibrating alarm when two wearers approach each other and fail to respect the minimum safe distance.

It was tested at our Machelen site, which makes decorative paints and employs around 150 people. Colleagues in production, administration and logistics put the wearable through its paces and the reaction was extremely positive. 

“We saw an immediate impact in terms of how our employees interacted with each other and more than 90% of them said they would be willing to continue using the wearable,” explains Stefaan De Block, Site Manager at the Machelen facility.

“Introducing social distancing requires a major change in behavior. When used in relatively quiet, non-production environments, the device was very effective in reminding people to respect the safe distance, which in our case is 1.5 meters.”

Adds Jen Rossey, CEO of Lopos: “The SafeDistance wearable is an intuitive solution that endorses social distancing guidelines in a professional environment. Employees can easily carry the wearable via a clip on the hip or a lanyard and rest assured that they are working within a safe distance. Our solution works as a standalone solution; no gateway, server or other infrastructure is required, no personal data are logged.”

Following the trial at AkzoNobel, De Block says he would opt to buy the current version of the wearable for colleagues working in relatively quiet, non-production environments. For those who work in noisier surroundings – such as manufacturing – he’s planning to wait for the next version of the device (due in October) which can be worn on the wrist – making easier for employees to notice the alarm, which will emit a louder audible signal, as well as vibrating and triggering a flashing LED.

“It’s crucial that we continue to respect social distancing guidelines,” continues De Block. “This device will give us an additional means to support our employees and keep them safe. It will also help us to ensure business continuity. So it has a number of significant advantages.

“But let’s be clear, not having this technology can never be an excuse to not respect social distancing guidelines.”

Following a number of successful pilots, Lopos is now scaling up to mass production.