This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

A Cornell-based startup has expanded the features of its platform’s technology to fit the caution required as result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The technology ensures social distancing in the workplace, enabling companies to bring employees back to work safely.

Iterate Labs was established in 2016 with the goal of creating wearable technologies and software to improve workplace ergonomic safety and risk assessment and reduce workplace repetitive-use injuries. But in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has significantly enhanced the accuracy and real-time reporting capabilities of its location awareness and contact tracing technologies.

The wearable devices, which can be attached to a worker’s wrist or arm or be worn around the neck, measure and enforce social distancing with vibrations and audio alerts to notify people when they are too close to colleagues. 

The devices are synced to an online dashboard, which quickly identifies who may have been exposed to a worker with COVID-19 and allows operations managers to be proactive in limiting the spread of the virus.

The engineering team realized Bluetooth low-energy technology was producing false alarms, and instead ultra-wide band (UWB) technology was required, which is precise to around 4 inches.

The team examined privacy and liability in developing the wearable devices’ software, conducting extensive customer interviews to inform the development of the user interface. Privacy guidelines were integrated into the software design, after completing a contact tracing certification program issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The startup’s existing UX design was adapted to the challenge of social distancing.

The technology is currently being piloted in a Cornell research lab, and the core platform is being piloted by some of the largest food processors in the United States.