Tech firms developing gadgets to safely return to offices

03 Aug 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to adapt to a new normality, as we must carry out our day-to-day activities differently. Whether it is shopping with facemasks on, meeting in smaller group and working from home, the outbreak has left its mark. Tech firms are looking at ways to help workers return to the office by attempting to provide new, useful gadgets and software that will make the return easier. 

Should workers return to offices? There is no straight answer, with some preferring the comfort of working from home, whilst others missing the workplace environment. 

Technological companies have been trying to come up with the latest equipment to allow offices to open safely. These gadgets will enable workers to follow the strict health and safety regulations. 

UK-based robotics group, Tharsus, develop a wearable that you wear around your neck, like a necklace, that ensures that workers are keeping a distance between one another. If two workers are close to each other, the necklace sends out an alert to the user. 

Tharsus CEO Brian Palmer explained, “Bump is like traffic lights, which improve safety and at the same time improve capacity. Analysis of Bump traffic data enables the volume of people in the workplace to increase, safely.”

“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 can see who collected data, when and why.”

Vodafone is also developing heat detection cameras that use “both thermal and HD cameras to deliver reliable, real-time body temperature screening accurate to within +/- 0.3 degrees Celsius and can screen up to 100 people every minute,” director of Vodafone Business UK, Anne Sheehan stated. 

The cameras, which are made by surveillance tech maker Digital Barriers, would be placed at an entrance to ensure that those who enter are fit to be in the office.

“The data it gathers is only relevant at that particular point in time. The device doesn’t include technologies such as facial recognition and it cannot be used as a tracking device.”

Moreover, Dutch lighting maker Signify is looking to use UV lights to disinfect surfaces in offices. 

Meetings were carried out on multiple platforms, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, with Cisco’s Webex video-conferencing app noting 324 million users attending online meetings in March. Chintan Patel, Cisco’s chief technologist in the UK said, “There’s been a seismic change in the last few months in terms of working. It goes without saying that what’s taken place has been incredible.”

Furthermore, travel remains to be a challenge as authorities urged the public to stay away from using public transportation. Therefore, a number of start-up companies are looking to launch their services, offering two-wheel electric vehicles for citizens to commute to the workplace safely, without causing any harm to the environment. 

General manager at Swedish e-scooter firm Voi said, “This is about getting the public back to work moving again in a safe way.”

Tech firms are seeking to facilitate the return to normality, as the world starts to adapt.