The Device Facilitating Social Distancing in the Workplace

Bump offers real-time information to track interactions—not people—helping businesses to understand, analyse and design measures to best protect their employees

16.10.2020 | by Reve Fisher
Photo by Tharsus
Photo by Tharsus

As COVID-19 continues to ravage the globe, many employers are trying to figure out how to keep their workers safe and stay in business.

The decision to head into the workplace amidst a pandemic is not one that many make lightly. If they don’t go to work, they might lose their job. If they do, they risk exposing themselves and their loved ones to a potentially deadly virus.

To help combat this dilemma, UK-based Tharsus has developed a device called Bump. Combining wearable technology and data management, Bump is a “personal motion system” designed to help people analyse and monitor the way they interact at work, be it in an office or a warehouse. The device was also used to help the 2020 London Marathon take place despite restrictions in place due to COVID-19.



The device uses radio technology to collect data in real-time to report on interactions—not individual people—to help businesses design best practices to protect their employees. While wearing the device, the user gets an immediate warning if they are too close to someone. At the same time, the device generates management information to improve workplace safety and business performance, allowing companies to make decisions with confidence.

The Bump system uses free-standing hubs that are placed at every entrance and exit of the work area. When users enter the area, the hub downloads information about the contacts their devices have had with other employees. If a worker ends up contracting COVID-19, the system can track the contacts themselves, how long the user was near said contact, and whether there were any interactions that were under 1.2 metres over the last 14 days.



Bump also reminds wearers to wash or sanitise their hands. Sinks and hand sanitising units can be equipped with Bump sensors, which are customised with the specific company’s policies about hand washing. Users will then be reminded to wash their hands five minutes before the allotted time is up. Sanitising stations can also be set up at, say, the entrance of a kitchen and programmed to remind everyone who enters to wash their hands, regardless of the last time they washed them.

The programme can be customised with extra features and in line with complex workplace layouts; sensors are currently being developed to alert businesses to areas that may be potential hotspots for the virus. Since workers wearing PPE can be closer to each other, the device also has a feature to let the system know when users have protective clothing, thus stopping the alerts about being too close.

According to the Tharsus website, Bump is different than anything else currently on the market. Unlike mobile apps, it offers information that’s both in real-time and preventive. Mobile apps currently work by tracing contacts retrospectively, when it could possibly be too late.

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