Coronavirus News: Wearable sensor could help safeguard against COVID-19, get people back to work

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Experts agree one of the best ways to stay safe during the pandemic is to continue practicing social distancing, but sometimes it is hard to know if you are 6 feet away from someone else -- but that's where high tech can help.

What will returning to work look like during the COVID-19 pandemic? It's something everyone is trying to picture as more businesses start opening up.

At Newlab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, they've got a pretty good idea.

"I think we've built this sandbox to test out these new approaches to returning workers to environments like this safely," said Newlab CEO, Shaun Stewart.

StrongArm Tech, based in Brooklyn, created a wearable device initially created for warehouse workers to avoid getting injured and has now reconfigured the gadget to fit the needs for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The device is about the size of a cellphone that you put in a small harness or a backpack and wear it while you work.

The FUSE sensor quickly measures a load of valuable information that its creator hopes will keep people healthy.

"The sensor is really designed to be kind of like a coach, a guardian angel that stings on your shoulder watching out for all the risks and then tapping you," said Tech CEO Sean Petterson.

If two people violate the recommended six feet under social distancing, the sensor will let you know by flashing and vibrating.

The device also collects vital details needed for contact tracing.

Right now, at this site each day, there are roughly 60 workers focused on essential COVID-19 related efforts like making PPE. The sensors on the device are crucial tools if anyone gets sick.

"Where did they go, what areas did they spend the most time in and who did they interact with," said Stewart.

The sensors have been in place for a week and so far, so good.

Newlab is the first client, a priority because of the work they do to support places like hospitals. A larger rollout is planned for June 1.

"We're hoping in a small way we're helping people have a bit more comfort and a little bit more awareness to be safer as we try and get this country back up and running," said Stewart.

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