Maria Montero

A "safety bubble" electronics protects users from COVID-19

The CDC has identified social distancing as one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. But sometimes people, consumed by their busy work lives, need a kind but firm reminder. Insight SiP, a designer and manufacturer of systems in packages (SiPs), has created a device they call “Security Bubble COVID-19” that generates an electronic barrier, locking in each user and reminding them when they get too close to another person.

Insight SiP’s “COVID-19 Security Bubble” creates an adjustable security zone around each protected person. Use of screenshot courtesy of Insight SiP

The company designs and manufactures a range of modules for positioning and reaching. One of Insight’s main areas of expertise is integrating antennas into your small devices, along with the accompanying electronic circuitry. It is this critical amalgam that allows the company to design its miniature security bubbles.

Because it is important

Sight Insight’s introduction in this area came through its past involvement in the European R&D project H2O (Human to Object), which was dedicated to smart city innovation. Then came the pandemic, and a new set of social imperatives was born. Insight SiP CEO Michel Beghin explains: “Governments in the post-COVID-19 era will recommend social distancing rules in workplaces and public spaces. Our little wearable device, the Safety Bubble, allows businesses, public sector organizations and individuals to ensure that they comply with safety recommendations. “Beghin says his company will offer its technology to interesting PPE manufacturers to carry such a device. The security bubbles are designed in such a way that they do not capture any personal data and comply with the strict general data protection regulations (GDPR) of the EU. However, it is possible to enable data tracking by integrating data storage software into the labels.

How does it work

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 user. The device consists of a transmitter and a receiver and establishes radio contact with its nearby counterparts. Each device constantly updates its physical distance measurements to other units. The measurement is quite accurate, within a few centimeters. If users are within two meters (or any other programmed distance), an alarm sounds, so workers can perform their tasks without constantly measuring the distance between themselves and a coworker. The gentle negative application of the alarm helps people keep their distance, and the “new normal” is established without further ado. Small devices can be integrated into almost any portable device. Examples include helmets, bracelets, identification tags, or even clothing. Insight SiP claims that the user will not even notice its presence unless an alarm is softly sounded.

Use cases

The COVID-19 security bubble works by communicating with similar devices, so everyone who must be included in the protection ring must wear a compatible device. This limits its applicability to controlled areas, where everyone receives the device in some form, and participation is mandatory. These could include: Offices Laboratories Warehouses Luck Construction sites

The future of the antenna in package modules

The integration of antennas in integrated circuits 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 somewhat lower frequencies (such as those that the COVID-19 security bubble will operate), antenna packet modules (AIP) represent the smallest possible packets for these types of devices.

Insight SiP technology

Insight SiP technology includes 1) a SoC, 2) radio and timing glasses, 3) power supply decoupling, 4) antenna matching circuits, 5) integrated antenna, and 6) integrated shielding. Image used courtesy of Insight SiP

Having the factory take care of the complex details of attaching the transceivers to the antennas will certainly simplify the design process for OEMs.

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