An Electronic “Security Bubble” Protects Wearers from COVID-19June 08, 2020 by Gary Elinoff
Insight SiP’s miniature electronic "Security Bubble COVID-19" lets you know when you’re getting too close to others.
The CDC has identified social distancing as one of the most effective ways to halt the spread of COVID-19. But sometimes people, consumed with their busy work lives, need a gentle, but firm reminder.
Insight SiP, a designer and manufacturer of systems in packages (SiPs), has created a device they dub the "Security Bubble COVID-19" that generates an electronic barrier, cocooning each wearer and reminding them when they get too close to another person.
Insight SiP’s "Security Bubble COVID-19" creates an adjustable security buffer zone around each protected person. Screenshot use courtesy of Insight SiP
The company designs and manufactures a range of modules for positioning and ranging. One of Insight’s main areas of specialization is the integration of antennas into their tiny devices, along with the attendant electronic circuitry. It’s this critical amalgamation that enables the company to design its miniaturized security bubbles.
Why It’s Important
Insight SIP’s introduction to this arena came through its past participation in the European H2O (Human to Object) R&D project, which was dedicated to the smart city innovation. Then came the pandemic, and a new set of societal imperatives were born.
Insight SiP's CEO Michel Beghin explains, "Governments in the post-COVID-19 era will recommend social distancing rules in workplaces and public spaces. Our small wearable device, the Security Bubble, allows companies, public sector organizations, and individuals to ensure that they comply with safety recommendations."
Beghin says his company will offer its technology to PPE manufacturers interesting in bringing such a device to the market.
The Security Bubbles are designed in such a way that they don't capture any personal data and conform to tough EU general data protection regulations (GDPR). It is possible, however, to enable data tracking by integrating data storage software into the tags.
How It Works
The COVID-19 Security Bubble is an electronic device that creates a security bubble in the form of a low-power microwave radio signal around each wearer. The device consists of both a transmitter and a receiver and establishes radio contact with its nearby counterparts.
Each device constantly upgrades its measurements of physical distances to other units. The measurement is quite precise—to within a few centimeters. If users come within two meters (or any other programmed distance) of each other, an alarm sounds.
Thus, workers can go about their tasks without constantly gauging the distance between themselves and a coworker. The gentle negative re-enforcement of the alarm helps individuals to maintain distance, and the “new normal” is established without further ado.
The tiny devices can be integrated into almost any wearable. Examples include hard hats, bracelets, ID tags, or even clothing. Insight SiP claims the wearer won’t even notice its presence unless an alarm gently sounds.
The COVID-19 Security Bubble works by communicating with peer devices, so everyone who is to be included in the ring of protection must carry a compatible device. This limits its applicability to controlled areas, where everyone is provided with the device in some form, and participation is mandatory. These could include:
- Construction sites
The Future of Antenna in Package Modules
Integrating antennas into ICs is still in an academic phase. However, with the advent of 5G, and its mmWave operating ranges, this research is attracting more interest. But for now, and at the somewhat lower frequencies (like those the COVID-19 Security Bubble will operate at), antenna in package (AIP) modules represent the smallest possible packages for these types of devices.
Insight SiP's technology includes 1) an SoC, 2) radio and synchronization crystals, 3) power supply decoupling, 4) antenna-matching circuits, 5) integrated antenna, and 6) integrated shielding. Image used courtesy of Insight SiP
Having the factory deal with the complex details of mating transceivers to antennas will undoubtedly simplify the design process for OEMs.
Other COVID-19 Technology
Catch up on other electronic devices designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.