Tharsus develops cutting-edge social distancing system

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

Tharsus, one of the UK’s most advanced robotics companies, has announced the development of ‘Bump’ – a new, cutting-edge technology system specifically designed to help keep people safe in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bump is a simple, intuitive and friendly system designed to improve people’s ability to keep themselves safe at work and in doing so improve the capacity of the workplace.

Bump’s technology uses wearable and static devices that communicate with one another using sophisticated Radio Frequency (RF) technology. This creates a Personal Motion System that immediately alerts wearers when they are getting too close to another person.

The peer-to-peer system seeks to change and improve personal-distance behaviour by recording the interactions between devices every time someone comes into contact with another’s Bump zones. The wearable device will alert them if contact is made, with each interaction recorded and made available for the individual wearer to review.

Bump was developed as a preventative measure to help businesses enforce personal-distance standards, measure effectiveness, minimise aerosol transmission, and support the implementation of contact transmission policies.

As well as alerting wearers, the Bump system can be used by employers to monitor the interactions taking place, providing additional insight into movement throughout the workplace and the intelligence to inform social-distancing measures.

The data produced by Bump is limited to the time, severity and frequency of interactions, fully encrypted, and only available to individual wearers and their employers.

Brian Palmer, CEO of Tharsus, said: “’Do the right thing’ is our mantra and we wanted to help the country tackle a serious challenge. Social distancing is one the most important ways to slow down the spread of COVID-19, but it’s really hard to do well, especially at work where it’s absolutely vital.

“This is the first time in living memory that people have been told to stay home for their own safety. At the same time, the pandemic has forced businesses to re-consider their responsibility as employers, with the health of workforces now more than ever one of the most important metric facing leadership teams.

“We have created Bump to solve these two issues – to give people confidence that it’s possible to return to work safely, and provide employers with the assurances they need before they can open up responsibly.

“This is a simple, intuitive and friendly system specifically designed to get people working again by changing the behaviour of individuals and businesses – and in doing so help regenerate our economy.”

Devices have been developed to be worn in designated workspaces, such as offices, warehouses, laboratories, manufacturing centres and canteens.

Tharsus estimates that Bump could help millions of people control their personal safety at work and allow many companies to accelerate their return-to-work strategies.

Early stage implementation is now underway following a period of robust testing at Tharsus’ headquarters in Blyth, Northumberland.

Development began shortly after the UK Government announced strict social-distancing measures to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tharsus developed Bump as a specific response to these measures in order to enable businesses to get back to work, help workers feel safe and empowered in their workplace and accelerate the UK’s economic recovery.

Tharsus is one of the UK’s smartest robotics companies and has a long track record of delivering progressive, robust and innovative technology solutions for companies such as DHL, Ocado, Rolls Royce, Automata and Small Robot Co.

Tharsus are producing 2,500 devices during May for a range of trial partners representing key sectors of the economy to test, learn and establish best practice of the Bump system before it is made available for commercial use from late June 2020. The technology conforms with all Government HSE policies, GDPR and complements other health and safety strategies.

Tharsus is working with Virscient, a New Zealand-based specialist in wireless connectivity and IoT, in the development of Bump is supporting Tharsus in the technical delivery of Bump from conception through to production.

Dave Swan, CTO of Tharsus, said: “We all agreed in the early stages of Bump’s development, that any product needed to help people feel safe. Today, this is as much about protecting privacy as it is helping people keep their distance. We designed Bump with this in mind and to ensure wearers don’t need to sacrifice data privacy. All data is available to an individual business and their team members alike. Everyone knows when the data is collected, why it’s being collected, and by whom.”

Dr Dean Armstrong, founder and CTO of Virscient, said: “We’re very proud to have worked with Tharsus to develop Bump – a product we think will be a game-changer in helping ensure safe and productive workplaces in a post-COVID world. From our very first discussions it was apparent that the Tharsus team had a deep understanding of the needs of workplaces and a strong desire to do their bit to help these employers get back up and running quickly. Virscient’s deep technology and wireless systems expertise was the perfect complement to Tharsus’ significant product development and commercialisation capabilities, and together we made the vision of Bump a reality in record time.”

Tharsus is also being supported by Arca Blanca, an integrated consulting and data company who specialise in business design and implementation. Arca Blanca has a deep expertise in helping organisations thrive in the face of disruption by adopting new ways of working and new technologies.


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