MTC evaluates new social distancing technology

The Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre has partnered with advanced robotics manufacturer Tharsus to support the roll-out of cutting-edge wearable technology which will help social distancing in the workplace.

The MTC is carrying out an independent evaluation of the new technology designed to support return to work strategies following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The system, known as Bump, uses wearable and static devices operating on radio frequencies to alert wearers when they are getting too close to another person.

The system is aimed at improving personal distance behaviour by recording the interactions between devices every time someone comes into contact with another person’s Bump zone. The wearable device will alert them if contact is made, with each interaction recorded.

As well as alerting wearers, Bump can be used by employers to monitor interactions, providing additional insight into movement throughout the workplace, and the intelligence to inform social-distancing guidelines.

The system has been developed by Northumberland-based advanced robotics manufacturer Tharsus.

In addition to manufacturing facilities, Bump can be rolled out in offices, warehouses, laboratories, and social workplace environments such as canteens throughout the UK.

Following the production of 2,500 devices for trial, the system is now available for commercial use.

Brian Palmer, CEO of Tharsus, said: “This is the first time in living memory that people have been told to socially distance for their own safety. At the same time, the pandemic has forced businesses to re-consider their responsibility as employers, with the health of workforces now more than ever one of the most important metrics facing leadership teams.

“We have created Bump to solve these two issues – to give people the help they need to stay distanced and safe, and provide employers with the assurances they need so they can operate responsibly.”

Dr Clive Hickman, chief executive of the MTC, said: “We have a team of engineers who are working closely with Tharsus to evaluate Bump so that, when ready, we can inform industry of the most efficient and effective ways to implement the new system.

“Our sector is playing a vital role in the UK’s fight against Covid-19 and projects like this, that are designed to get people working again safely, will be critical to supporting the economic recovery.”

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