Health & Wellness

New Device Alerts Workers Who Get Too Close

Canadian manufacturers have created a way to make social distancing at work a little easier

By Erika Morris

Photo: iStock/valentinrussanov.

As the reopening of our economy begins to look increasingly manageable, three Montreal manufacturers have come up with a way to make it safer—a wearable device that will remind people when they get too close to one another.

Aptly named the Social Distancer, the device clips onto your waistband and is about the size of a credit card. If two people wearing the devices get within 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) of each other, the devices will vibrate, flash red, and ring as a reminder to keep away. An advantage for employers who might think about outfitting their staff with the gadgets is that they don’t require any software or antennas. And for workers with concerns about privacy, the device doesn’t track location or movement. Its battery will hold a charge for about 10 to 12 hours.

Many are worried about staying safe when returning to work as physical distancing and minimal contact will be needed until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found. The three creators of the Social Distancer—Jarred Knecht, John Soares, and Steve Zimmerman—run electrical and mechanical companies and came together to respond to their employees’ concerns. They wanted to keep production rolling while keeping their workers safe.

As word of the project has spread, it has begun to garner international attention and interest from employers.

“The world is constantly changing, but one thing should always remain the same: it is the employer’s responsibility to keep their employees safe,” reads the creators’ website. “In a time of social distancing, the workforce—especially essential workers—need to be protected and feel safe.”

The product is expected to be available in the latter half of May, with a single device and its charger selling for $199. Part of the purchase proceeds will be donated to COVID-19 relief. For now, the product is designed for businesses, but with mass production, the price should go down and the devices could eventually be used in stores, restaurants, theatres, and other venues.