Tipperary firm develops workplace social distancing tech

VisionID’s ultra-wideband service designed to help staff observe Covid-19 restrictions

A Tipperary company has devised a new service to help employees observe social distancing in the workplace, using lanyards and bracelets that alert staff when they are too close.

Managed mobility services provider VisionID is using ultra-wideband technology – a wireless standard that is accurate to 10cm – to track social distancing, alerting staff through an audible or vibrating alarm and logging infringements of regulations to a secure portal accessible by human resources or the company’s health and safety officers.

Each employee has their own wristband or lanyard, with a unique identifier attached. The system can also be used for contact tracing, logging the “contact” between various devices, and enabling employers to track anyone who may have been exposed to an infected employee.

Gateway hub

The data on each device is transmitted securely to a gateway hub that stores the information for up to two weeks.


"We've been looking at this for the past couple of months with some of our customers," VisionID's Kenneth Arthur said. "The software allows very accurate contact tracing on all the events that have taken place over the two-week or one-month period."

The system also has a three-second delay, so it will not be triggered by people walking past each other in the hallway.

Mr Arthur said the system was designed to be compliant with GDPR, with customers choosing between storing the data securely on their premises, in the cloud or as a managed service. “We don’t store any personal data; all we are storing is an employee ID,” he said.

Pilot basis

There are currently three companies testing the system on a pilot basis, including an Irish food company with a site in the UK.

“VisionID has been around for the last 20 years and is very focused on the life sciences and manufacturing organisations,” Mr Arthur said. “They are very much adopting this and looking at the technology. But we also believe any office or workplace with 50 employees or more should be looking at this technology.”

Mr Arthur said he wanted the system to become as essential a safety tool as hard hats, and that it was a key solution for companies in solving concerns of employees and customers around workplace safety.

The social distancing and contact tracing service can be rolled out to companies for as little as €3 per employee, and can be updated if the public health advice on social distancing is changed. The company is also looking at other applications for the technology, including tying it in with access control systems.

Founded in 2000 in Tipperary, VisionID employs about 40 people across Tipperary, Limerick, Dublin and Northern Ireland. It also has offices in the UK and US, and counts Dell, Hertz, Kerry and the HSE among its clients.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist