Quuppa, a long-standing member company of the Bluetooth® Special Interest Group (SIG), is committed to delivering open, accurate, and reliable location services solutions. Given the impact of COVID-19, and the need for technology that can reliably support contact-tracing efforts, Quuppa is one of many innovative Bluetooth SIG member companies developing solutions that will aid reopening efforts around the globe.

Recently, I had an opportunity to touch base with the co-founders of Quuppa partner i-Virtualize,  John Buskermolen and Dan Simunic,  and discuss advancements in Bluetooth® location services and how they can help support COVID-19 contact tracing, as well as additional positioning use cases.

Q&A with John Buskermolen and Dan Simunic

What are some of the challenges that large venues, such as offices, conference centers, and retail stores, must face and address to safely reopen post COVID-19?

A couple of the challenges any organization faces post COVID-19 are the enforcement of social distancing and, in the event of an outbreak, the ability to identify the employees that have come in contact with an infected individual.

What role will technology play in reopening large public venues and buildings?

“Quuppa’s use of Bluetooth® technology enables i-Virtualize to provide accurate, real-time location data on a tagged asset.” 
– John Buskermolen and Dan Simunic, i-Virtualize

Technology will play an essential role in the return to normal. Businesses need to reopen, and employees and their families need to feel safe when returning to work. Imagine the amount of effort and resources required to try and enforce social distancing guidelines while maintaining records and reports of violations.

Fortunately, technology being used post-COVID-19 is continuously evolving. For example, we see it with the tags. They are continuously being improved and modified to satisfy the requirements of contact-tracing solutions.

When enforcing social distancing guidelines, it is important to have a contact-tracing system, like the one i-Virtualize and Quuppa offer to help businesses stay in operation and give employees some assurance that the employer is taking whatever measures they can to protect them while at work.

What can you tell us about your efforts to support reopening or contact tracing?

In addition to partnering with ThinkIN to deliver a contact-tracing system in North America, we’ve been able to provide valuable customer feedback on the software side. This input has led to feature additions and modifications on how data is reported, delivering the information customers need to support reopening.

Apart from contact tracing, Quuppa technology can accurately identify where an asset is at any given point in time. This valuable data can be used to produce heat maps or identify hot spots or areas of high traffic. After analyzing the data, decisions can be made to reduce the amount of traffic in these areas helping reduce the risk of spreading infection.

In addition, our solution is not a tag-to-tag alerting technology, but a real-time location system (RTLS) solution that has additional use cases outside of contact tracing. It can, therefore, provide additional data that can be used to drive other operational efficiencies, so it is not just a contact-tracing system but a technology in which the business will see an additional return on its investment. 

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What types of Bluetooth enabled innovations will have the biggest impact when it comes to reopening efforts?

“It is not just a contact-tracing solution but a technology in which the business will see an ROI.” 
– John Buskermolen and Dan Simunic, i-Virtualize

Contact-tracing systems, such as our TRACE Sensors offering (which is a combination of Quuppa Bluetooth® technology and ThinkIN software), will have a significant impact on reopening efforts. Having the ability to enforce social distancing and report in the event of an outbreak is critical when it comes to providing a safer workplace. Without these assurances, it will be difficult for some to reopen.

With our TRACE Sensors solution, the tags will vibrate or alarm employees when they violate social distancing requirements. The system will keep a record of the violations. So, if an outbreak was to occur, the employer can take appropriate action and quarantine only a subset of employees that may have been exposed to the virus rather than shutting down the entire facility.

This technology is already being implemented in the workplace, and we expect the demand for these solutions will continue to grow.

Can you talk more about a project you are currently working on that uses Bluetooth technology and how it has the potential to help reopen public venues, offices, etc. due to COVID-19?

We currently have our TRACE Sensors solution deployed in a plastics manufacturing plant in Hamilton, ON. The business was deemed essential and had to remain in operation as they are a supplier to other essential businesses. The contact-tracing system gives both the employer and their employees a level of comfort knowing that a system is in place to help ensure a safer workplace. The employer has already started to realize some of the other benefits of Quuppa’s use of Bluetooth® technology, using it to identify operational efficiencies. So, it has become more than just a contact-tracing system.

Since its deployment, there’s been growing interest to see this solution used in various facilities across Canada and the United States.

Which industries will see the biggest impact from Bluetooth enabled reopening solutions?

All industries will see an impact from these solutions. However, we are seeing a big impact in manufacturing. The technology is not only being used as a reopening solution, but employers are seeing that the technology can be leveraged to drive other operational efficiencies as well.

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