With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, companies are making it a top-priority to maintain a safe distance at workplace. But how can the rules of distance be controlled and, in the event of infection, how can routes of infection be traced?
Based on its technology, the Munich-based start-up Kinexon has developed a completely new solution: a wristband for employees with ultra-wideband sensors. “The solution is suitable for all areas where people move around,” founder Oliver Trinchera told Handelsblatt.
Dubbed Safezone, the plastic wristband warns the wearer if the minimum distance to another person is too close. With additional software, companies can also track infection chains in retrospect.
The digital assistant is more versatile, but still not more expensive than the analog solution with masks, said Trinchera. “We offer digital protection that is superior to analog, and at a lower cost.” For a mask per day and employee, he said, 90 cents to one euro. SafeTag from Kinexon costs around 60 to 90 cents per employee per day.
Kinexon has made a name for itself with a chip technology that helps in sports, for example, to analyze the paths of basketball players or soccer players. Real-time localization with centimeter precision is also used in factories, for example, to monitor the flow of goods and the path of machines. “Kinexon is on its way to becoming the real-time operating system for the moving things in factories,” said Trinchera.
Now the technology is also expected to help companies in the fight against the coronavirus.
“We asked ourselves: What contribution can we make through digitalization in the age of Corona?”, said Trinchera. That’s why we took risks early on and can now provide the solution in large quantities. The customers did not need any infrastructure for the solution.
Tracing of infection chains
With the help of technology, possible infection paths can be traced. In Germany, there is currently intense debate about which app solution for the smartphone can best and most securely do this.
Kinexon co-founder Alexander Hüttenbrink does not believe that apps that run on the private smartphones of employees will prevail in companies. On the one hand, localization is too imprecise, there are data protection concerns, and it is essential that all employees participate.
Kinexon Safezone has a basic version that only warns if two employees come closer than allowed. An extended version enables the tracking of contact chains. Kinexon considers this to be in compliance with data protection regulations. The data is made anonymous, the sovereignty remains with the company.
“We can determine very precisely whether any contact at risk has taken place,” says Hüttenbrink. Second-degree contacts could also be traced. This has the advantage for the companies that they do not have to send entire departments home in case of a corona case.
Kinexon was already one of the most promising German start-ups. Currently, there are two main areas of application: In sports, Kinexon is already established in many clubs. The teams wear sensors in special shirts, for example, which can transmit data by radio even indoors. Software tools can then be used to analyze running routes, for example.
Kinexon is the leader in the American basketball league, the NBA, with a market share of around 70 percent.