TheDistancer helps prevent corona infections

News | July 7, 2020

Keeping one and a half meters away is easier than it seems. Certainly with the help of the smart TheDistancer, which is partly thanks to a high-tech company Variass is developed. No bigger than a car key, the device with the colors red, orange and green tells you whether someone is inside, outside or exactly one and a half meters away. "With TheDistancer, we contribute to preventing corona infections."

Walking on the Grote Markt in Groningen, just after the announcement of the lockdown, entrepreneur Leon Fock how people struggle with keeping one and a half meters away. “It feels unusual for everyone. After all, it should be possible to make keeping distance easy with a simple device.” At home he set to work with a soldering iron, resulting in a small device that uses color signals to indicate whether someone is keeping enough distance. A friend is immediately enthusiastic, but just like Fock cannot produce it. Henk Smid of high-tech company Variass is asked to do this.


Smith is also enthusiastic. "If you can contribute to the solution of a very urgent social issue, then you will do it." Together they discuss what the device must meet and a team of specialists at Variass manages to produce a working prototype within a few weeks. to have. ,,Normally, such a process takes months, but we have the in-house knowledge to reduce process structures with a few steps in order to quickly get from idea to product,'' explains Smid.


With the size of a car key, the device can be worn as a brooch or pendant. The first eight samples will be tried out in a healthcare institution 's Heeren Loo for the mentally handicapped. Keeping distance from each other is virtually impossible for mentally handicapped and elderly people with dementia. Touch is an important way for them to make contact. Moreover, explaining why keeping a distance is necessary is often difficult. TheDistancer seems to be a solution here.


How does TheDistancer work? With the colors of a traffic light, it warns the wearer if someone else comes too close. Red if someone comes closer than one and a half meters, orange for 1.5 to 2 meters and green if someone stays at a safe distance. No beeps and no vibrations, which makes the device stimulus-free. It also works without an internet connection. No data is therefore collected and stored, which is in line with safety and privacy standards in healthcare. "Anyone can wear the device," said Smid. "In this way we try to make a concrete contribution to the prevention of infection with the corona virus."

TheDistancer goes into production in July.