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Smart wearables bring a buzz to social distancing

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IoT connectivity and security startup Nodle, non-profit foundation Coalition Network, and leading global technology solutions company Avnet, have announces a new smart wearable contact tracing device, the Nodle M1. The device tracks distance and buzzes employees to let them know when they are too close to one another. The Nodle M1 can be clipped to an employee’s shirt or badge, or worn as a necklace. The device leverages parts of the open source Whisper Tracing Protocol and is interoperable with the Coalition App, the privacy-first contact tracing application developed by the Coalition Network.

According to a recent Harvard University White Paper and Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security study, privacy-preserving digital contact tracing tools are considered force-multipliers to help scale manual tracing efforts, reduce the amount of testing needed, and slow the spread of COVID-19. Employees spend a lot of time at work interacting with coworkers, making it easy for COVID-19 to spread. Certain jobs, such as those in warehouses, factories, hospitals and food processing plants, aren’t often performed with a smartphone on hand, which makes receiving digital contact tracing notifications via smartphones difficult.

Says Micha Benoliel, Nodle’s Co-founder & CEO: “In recent conversations with government officials and large enterprises, we realized the dire need for privacy-preserving contact tracing smart devices that can work independently, and without the need for a smartphone. We’ve already received interest from large enterprises in the US and Europe for several million units and Avnet has the experience necessary to scale the production of these wearables in record time.”

In response, Nodle began working with Avnet to create the Nodle M1, a privacy-first contact tracing solution for enterprises to better protect employees and visitors from exposure to COVID-19. The 5 cm (2 in.) device tracks distance and notifies employees with a buzz when they get too close to one another (less than 6 feet). The distance is determined with far better precision than a smartphone-based solution, and without the need for location. The system also enables operational (HR) departments to alert anyone who may have been near an employee who has previously reported a COVID-19 infection. To ensure privacy and security, The Nodle M1 provides a rotating random identifier to prevent unauthorized third parties in tracking employees or understanding the size of a company’s labor force. The Nodle M1 is industrial grade, IP67 waterproof, dust-proof and can live on a single battery charge for several days.

Says Bill Amelio, Avnet’s CEO: “The Nodle M1 will be a valuable tool for businesses as we continue the fight against COVID-19 because it enables employers to quickly notify anyone who may have potentially been exposed to the virus in the workplace. By leveraging the Avnet ecosystem to accelerate Nodle’s ability to deliver this device, we’re able to quickly bring to market a solution that prioritizes employee safety while enabling business continuity.”

Shipments of the Nodle M1 device begin in October 2020. Pre-orders are available now at https://m1.nodle.io

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