Waukesha-based IoT company EmbedTek, LLCis developing a wearable contact tracing device that allows businesses to enforce social distancing rules within their facilities.
The new device, called PariRange, is a peer-to-peer contact tracking device that can be embedded into protective equipment and work accessories such as a face shield, hardhat, ID badge and wristband.
PariRange collects and communicates data in a peer-to-peer fashion between each contact tracking device, delivering a cell phone-like vibration to the individual when close to another employee.
Beyond enforcing social distancing, employers can use data collected by the device to understand how communicable diseases are passing through a facility and what individuals could be at risk to prevent further spread. The company plans to bring PariRange to market in August.
EmbedTek, which specializes in embedded computer systems, software, sensors and integrated displays, identified a demand for PariRange in part because of the local food processors and manufacturers who were unable to contain the initial spread of COVID-19within their facilities, said Dan Aicher, EmbedTek chief executive officer.
“For food processors and manufacturers, for example, initial infections that were not contained have spread throughout facilities, endangering employees and shutting down essential portions of the supply chain,” Aicher said in a statement. “It is critical that these facilities are able to open safely and respond quickly and effectively to future COVID-19 cases that occur within their work community.”
EmbedTek chief technology officer Kent Tabor and his creative team were also already working on ultra-wideband technology for another application and were able to leverage their research to develop PariRange.
Ultra-wideband technology is used in radar imaging and is known for being more precise and accurate than peer technologies. In fact, PariRange can track the distance between devices to as little as two inches by accurately measuring the "time of flight" or distance traveled of infrared light. In essence, time of flight technology does not rely on the signal strength of radio frequency, which is a major improvement over Bluetooth alternatives.
Another benefit of PariRange is that it does not track an employee’s location, movements, or productivity throughout the day. Although infrastructure could be deployed to enable geographic tracking, some companies prefer the ability to maintain privacy while still having access to the benefits of contact tracing.
The U.S. Navy, for example, has shown interest in PariRange after the U.S. Theodore Roosevelt moored in Guam because of coronavirus cases among its crew, Aicher said.
“That’s a serious issue from a defense standpoint as well as of course people getting ill,” Aicher said. “They have to have a solution. Everyone is trying to get back to work and this can play a very positive role in making that happen and help protect people in the process.”
Get more news and insight in the May 25 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.