News release

Terabee Proximeter, Covid-19 encounter tracking device

10 times more accurate than smartphone apps or Bluetooth devices, it allows companies to improve workplace response to the challenges of COVID-19

Max Ruffo with Terabee Proximeter

French sensor solutions technology company, Terabee, has announced that their proximity detecting device, Proximeter, performs typically with ten times more accuracy than contact tracing smartphone apps or Bluetooth devices.

Deploying Proximeters in workplaces enables companies and organizations to improve workplace distancing, contact tracing and break the chain of COVID-19 transmission, while protecting data privacy.


Limiting encounters at risk

How the Proximeter works is that each person in the shared workplace carries the enterprise-grade wearable device, which is set to vibrate or buzz when the wearer moves within a predefined distance, such as 1.5m or 2m for a predefined time, say 20 or 30 seconds of another person wearing a Proximeter. This allows them to move a safe distance apart and to limit risks.

When encounters happen they are logged in an internal memory. These encounter logs can then be used to trace and contact people who may have been exposed to a virus transmission risk.


Ten times more accurate than smartphone apps or Bluetooth devices

“Terabee Proximeter is unlike any smartphone app or Bluetooth device. Its distance measurement capabilities are typically ten times more accurate due to its use of ultra wideband radio-frequency technology. The Proximeter is unobtrusive to use and only alerts and logs people encounters that could contain a risk,” said Max Ruffo, CEO and Founder, Terabee.

“The Proximeter’s advanced features and 10cm accuracy make it the best solution for complex working environments. Through advanced dynamic networking, the devices constantly adapt to complex people dynamics as groups form and disperse,” Ruffo continued.

Terabee uses the Proximeter on its site in St Genis Pouilly, France. When a positive case was identified recently the company would ordinarily have to quarantine all people who had been onsite at the same time. Thanks to Proximeter data, it was possible to quarantine only eight people, whose contacts were extracted from the encounter logs. All remaining staff were able to continue operations onsite, safe in the knowledge they did not pose a direct risk. The company saved thousands of euros and weeks of work that would otherwise have been lost.


Proximeters adopted in CERN’s Covid-19 response

At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world’s leading centre for research in particle physics, all those onsite are required to wear the Proximeter, as part of efforts to improve the Organization’s response to the challenges of Covid-19. Approximately 10,000 people will be carrying Proximeters to avoid potentially harmful encounters and provide contact tracing information.

“Combating the spread of COVID-19 is the primary objective in rolling out the Proximeter, but privacy has been carefully considered. There is no location tracking – just proximity detection between people” said Roberto Lasito, Project Leader for the Proximeter at CERN.

“The Proximeter only knows where it is with respect to other Proximeters. It does, however, know that specific information to an accuracy far better than that of mobile-phone-based apps, which makes it very good at telling its holders when they are getting too close, while keeping their whereabouts confidential.”


Safer workplace distancing

The other advantage is that false alarms are reduced to a minimum, so it is far more convenient and less disruptive to use. Only the encounters potentially at risk trigger the device. As a result, Proximeter use can also result in greater productivity as staff are not distracted with false alarms.

Moreover the accuracy of the device enables people to work at the closest permissible distance to others, as needed to perform their work. This is a significant advantage in organizations where people need to work in teams and in relative proximity.


Privacy concerns addressed

This device enables encounters potentially at risk to be identified while respecting data privacy concerns. Terabee Proximeter includes several layers of security to protect data privacy and prevent cyber attacks.

Terabee developed and commercialized the Proximeter device, based on CERN’s miniIoT (Internet of Things) technology, under a collaboration agreement. Other Terabee Covid-19 mitigation technology solutions can be found here


Technical aspects

Proximeter data analysis is adapted to the individual organizations needs. Direct physical download of the encounters list and over the air transfer of data to a cloud database are available. From simple contamination chain identification to a more complex database application, the Proximeter’s data analysis can be adapted to individual company needs.

Proximeter key features

  • Wearable interpersonal distance monitoring system
  • Data storage directly on the device, and backup possibility via LoRa network
  • Advanced sensor dynamic networking able to manage any situation up to 64,000 people moving together
  • No extra setup. Start devices and go
  • Reliable and accurate ultra wideband (UWB) radio-frequency technology
  • Rechargeable battery (via micro-USB) with 1 working day autonomy on a charge
  • Onboard pre-sorting of encounters at risk
  • LoRaWAN ready for full process automation
  • Alarm sounds when time and distance thresholds are breached, everything user settable
  • No monthly subscription necessary, can be purchased as capital equipment


Image: Max Ruffo, CEO and Founder, Terabee, with the Proximeter encounter tracker and workplace distancing device.

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