New COVID-19 research initiative: Ultra-low cost social distancing band

Members in UF’s Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World, Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are developing an affordable wearable device that indicates appropriate social distancing. The researchers’ approach utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology in a wearable wrist band. BLE signal strength (RSSI) and transmission power level (TX_power) are used by novel distance estimation and classification algorithms, to notify users if they are within a specified distance range (e.g., less than 6ft) of another person. The detected signals can also be stored locally on the wearable device for: 1) preserving privacy and 2) estimating exposure risks as needed.

This project addresses the issue of social distancing in traditionally crowded settings, such as K-12 schools, and universities, among others. The basic work of designing the algorithms for measuring distance between people and adapting the software into a wearable band has been completed, and the project is now at the stage of gathering data to evaluate the band’s accuracy in a group of people.

The research team members include Dr. My T. Thai, Dr. Yier Jin and Dr. Ahmed Helmy.

The research team members include:

Yier Jin, Director of Academic Programs for the Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World and Associate Professor and IoT Term Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

My T. Thai, Associate Director of the Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World and UF Research Foundation Professor, Department of Computer & Information Science

Ahmed Helmy, Professor and Graduate Director, Department of Computer & Information Science

This story originally appeared on UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.