Coronavirus News: Putnam County museum uses technology to enforce social distancing

COLD SPRING, Putnam County (WABC) -- There's a unique buzz surrounding the reopening of a Putnam County museum as New York continues its measured emergence from the coronavirus pandemic.

Magazzino Italian Art is the only museum in the US using wearable technology to enforce social distancing.

Visitors to the 20,000-square-foot museum dedicated to Italian postwar and contemporary art are giving small badges worn on a lanyard upon arrival.

The devices light up and vibrate when users come within six feet of one another.

"It's really hard for people to identify what that distance is," museum director Vittorio Calabrese said. "So people find this very useful, because they sometimes learn what social distancing is for the first time."

The devices are made by an Italian company and were originally designed to avoid workplace collisions in industrial settings.

A wearable version has been used in other museums in Italy that reopened after the COVID-19 shutdown.

The tags are programmed to vibrate only when in proximity to other patrons, but not when visitors from the same family or traveling party stand next to each other.

They emit only 1/1000th the radiation of a cell phone and collect no personal information.

The museum director says embracing technology is part of the new normal.

"We do not want to stop," he said. "Art does not really ever stop."

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