Quebec-based regional carrier Vidéotron’s business arm has launched a new product designed to help people maintain physical distance in the workplace.
Dubbed Radius, the new wristband uses vibration and light to alert the wearer if they get too close to another person. Vidéotron’s website explains that Radius records proximity interactions between wristbands and that businesses will be able to use this to trace employee interactions if they test positive for COVID-19.
It’s important to note the wristband doesn’t use geolocation. Instead, wristbands operate on Bluetooth similarly to Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification system in smartphones. The Canadian government uses that same system as the foundation for its COVID Alert app, which utilizes Bluetooth to detect and anonymously record events of proximity and warn users if they potentially become exposed to someone with COVID-19. To be clear, Vidéotron’s band is very different from COVID Alert, but the use of Bluetooth to monitor proximity is similar.
Since Radius is designed for use in a business, there’s a little more going on than what’s behind COVID Alert and similar smartphone-based systems. For example, businesses can also install ‘gateways’ throughout different office areas like the entrance, cafeteria or coffee machine. The wristbands periodically transmit interactions to these gateways, which make the information available via an online portal. That portal can then be used to form internal action plans if someone tests positive for COVID-19.
The portal provides information like whether the wristbands synced with the gateways in the last 24 hours, the succession of close contact within your company and a search section with a history of wristbands that were too close together.
For those worried about privacy, Vidéotron says the Radius wristband uses an anonymous ID when recording incidents of proximity and that the data isn’t shared with Vidéotron. Instead, it’s “privileged information reserved” for the business using the wristbands.
Finally, Vidéotron says the Radius wristbands were designed and manufactured entirely in Quebec.
The Radius Wristband became available for purchase by Quebec businesses starting September 24th. Vidéotron offers two tiers for businesses: the first includes just the wristbands at $100 per band. There is no access to the online management portal, but the bands can still alert employees if they get too close to each other. There’s also ‘Radius Pro,’ which costs $10 per wristband per month and includes the gateways and access to the online portal. Businesses can place their Radius orders here.
Those interested can learn more about Radius on the Vidéotron Business website.