Dr. Ruchi Khajuria
After the Government started relaxing lockdown restrictions, more people are now returning to work by reviving the economies which were crushed by the lockdowns. But for many, fears remain about the risk of contracting the coronavirus once they step out of their homes because we are now entering the world which is very different from the one we have left. From the very beginning of pandemic COVID-19 outbreak, World Health Organization (WHO) has already issued a number of basic protective measures against this novel virus. Apart from practicing personal hygiene and wearing an appropriate mask, an important piece of advice from WHO experts is to maintain social distance of at least 1 meter (three feet). But social distancing is so hard for us because it’s contrary to the human nature. In fact it’s in our DNA to come close and embrace our dear ones once we meet them after so long. In such cases, the chances of infection are more. So, it is very important to maintain social distancing until the scientists find a vaccine. Nowadays, quarantine and social distancing are going technologically advanced and several innovative tools and wearables are in trial around the world to keep a check on physical distance. Although smartphone apps like Aarogya Setu, Corona Kavache, COVID19 Feedback, CovidWatch, TraceTogether and many others are seen as one solution, but sometimes they have a larger margin of error, which leads to false positives or negatives. Moreover, the mobile phones are also not often used in an industrial environment. So in such cases, the risk of contracting the infection amid pandemic is more. That’s why the physical devices are always considered more effective above these apps. Many companies are touting various technologies intended to safely see employees back in the office. Recently, a new wearable system more specifically bracelet style called Romware Covid Radius has been launched by Belgium technology company Rombit to prevent coronavirus infection on workfloor. This buzzing bracelet which can work even without an internet connection is considered as an efficient solution for sectors such as heavy industries, logistics and construction in the times of crisis.
This digital smart bracelet which almost looks like a smart watch ensures social distancing and also permits contact tracing in case the person becomes infected with the virus. The wearer gets a vibrating alert whenever they are not maintaining social distancing which is mandated by WHO. Belgium port of Antwerp has become the first official workplace to employ this new innovative Covid bracelet to help its employees maintain physical distancing measures while respecting the privacy of the wearer by not passing on the location or other sensitive information to the employer.
Rombit is not alone in the race of Covid Wearables for social distancing; Canada’s Proxxi Company has also developed a similar wrist – worn band “Halo” that vibrates to alert the wearer of the presence of another band within six feet or 2 meters distance thereby maintaining social distance. Likewise, Estimote which is a technology company has also released a Bluetooth based wearable device for the industrial workers to be aware of the safe distances from each other. The British robotics company Tharsus has also designed wearable technology called Bump which helps people to keep themselves safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
India too has come forward with various solutions to maintain social distancing wearables. Delhi based Architecture discipline is working on a choker-cum-social distancing neck brace that gives an alert whenever the wearer is not following social distance. Infact the device is also considered to be helpful for visually or hearing impaired. An Engineering student from Lovely Professional University, Punjab has also created a small pendant (Kawach) that vibrates and glows when someone breaches the user’s safe space of 1 metre.
The novel coronavirus has actually opened the doors to surveillance and monitoring technologies creating new opportunities for wearable tech companies. As Covid’s death toll tops 367,587 globally, with some 5.95 million confirmed cases record, these apps and wearables could be instrumental in bringing the tally of the infection down till the time the antidote for this deadly disease comes in the market.
In this COVID era, with these wearables on, we all can return to work with confidence.
(The author is a Govt. Teacher at GHSS Rehal, Bishnah)
Dr. Ruchi Khajuria