Extronics has been awarded a product development fund from the UK government sustainable innovation fund for its work in developing a contact tracing and social distancing solution primarily targeted at process industries.
Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £10 million to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund.
The aim of this competition is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.
This funding will enable Extronics to perform a technical feasibility study into the practicalities of adding software to the existing iTAGX30 tags to facilitate a proximity warning (visual, sound and vibration) when two or more worker worn tags come close to each other.
Julian Poyner, Engineering Director at Extronics, commented on the development: “Our hybrid technology tag encompasses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, which we feel is the most appropriate technology to drive connectivity between the workers' tags because of its transmission range and low energy.
These real time warnings of accidental or prolonged encounters to operatives and management would allow the parties to separate swiftly. These encounters would be electronically stored and recoverable to aid contact tracing and provide enterprises with data to educate workers about social distancing best practice on their sites. We will also be working with Liverpool based 5D Health Protection Group as to the feasibility of adding their patented antimicrobial additives into our plastics.”
Extronics has worker safety at its core. The COVID-19 pandemic is another worker safety challenge all businesses must face.
Martin Crowe, Finance Director for Extronics, added: “We are proud to design, build and supply the process industries with products that improve worker safety in hazardous environments. We are grateful to UK Innovate for granting us this funding to provide a new worker safety solution that meets the challenge. We believe it will help businesses and employees feel confident in going back to work.”
The feasibility study currently in phase 1 will potentially lead to further funding in phase 2 and support Extronics development of the iTAG X30 social distancing and contact tracing solution.
John Hartley, CEO of Extronics, commented: “This development is being driven by a number of requests from our customer base as they look to adapt to the global pandemic. We are working with our customers to help steer this project and ensure people can go back to work smarter, safer, and more connected.”