Anatel homologates badge that warns when social distancing is broken | gadgets

Imagine a badge that warns you when social distancing is not followed. A dystopian idea, even considering the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it already exists, and Engineering do Brasil S.A., which offers cloud services and technologies like this to TIM, managed to approve the product at Anatel. The smart device connects to Wi-Fi to function and uses Bluetooth to alert when other devices are too close, forcing employees to maintain social distance.


Badge approved by Anatel whistles if social distancing is not respected (Image: Ono Kosuki/Pexels)

Badge lights up red and emits sound by proximity

Engineering is the badge maker. She warns in Anatel’s homologation note that the device has a technology called “Smart Proximity”, capable of collecting contact data and exchanging the information with “the data processing platform”.

Each device can be configured to set minimum social distance; if two devices are close together and below this distance, they emit a red light and a “continuous beep”. This alerts employees that they are breaking social distance, or close to a “risk area”.

It is possible to silence the alarm by pressing the on and off button, located on the front of the device. However, the badge will still emit red light.

Photo of the badge approved by Anatel (Image: Reproduction)

Photo of the badge approved by Anatel (Image: Reproduction)

According to Engineering’s approval request, the device collects information about the contact with other badges, the starting time of this approach and the ending contact. This sensor is capable of recording up to 100,000 encounters. The information would be stored on a Server per Application, using Wi-Fi reception. If two employees approach, it will record the entire duration of that meeting.

The company did not reveal the location of the Server per Application used to store the alarm data, nor who would have access to this information base.

Company says to Anatel that badge meets LGPD

Anatel approved the equipment this Wednesday afternoon (4). Engineering do Brasil S.A states in the order that the badge encrypts and makes the collected data anonymous. As a company with an Italian matrix with a branch in Brazil, as found by the Techblog, she says that the technology is in compliance with the GDPR — the data protection law of the European Union — and also with the Brazilian LGPD. The company claims that the technology has already been approved by “all the authorities in Europe”.

The employee turns on the Smart Proximity badge using a button on the front. When activated, the sensor emits a sound and a green light. It can be turned off by pressing the same button, with confirmation by a yellow light. The device has a battery that can last up to 3 hours and must be charged via USB.

Anatel approved the badge with “Family Mode”

It is stated in Anatel’s approval request that the badge has a “Family mode” — as it is called by Engineering S.A. The purpose of this device function is to avoid continuous alarms between two employees who perform activities that require breaking distance.

In “Family mode” the badges disable the alarm between each other. For this, it is necessary to position one device over the other. Both will sound the alarm by default. However, when the light and sound are gone, they emit a green light, confirming that they are synchronized as “Family”.

To disable “Family mode”, the same process must be repeated; this time, the badges will not sound an alarm. In fact, the opposite happens: the devices turn on a red light and go off as soon as they lose the association due to “kinship”.

Badge with Anatel's logo (Image: Reproduction)

Badge with Anatel’s logo (Image: Reproduction)

Badge can cause labor problems, says lawyer

Wanted by Techblog To learn more about the device and how it fits with the LGPD, Engineering points out that no confidential information is kept by the badge that warns of violation of social distancing.

“This means that the system only records the sensor’s unique identifiers and the temporal relationships between them, without any association with user data. The unique identifiers on the smart sensor are encrypted and the information travels over a secure channel. In addition, the user must consent to the distribution of information from the sensor to systems external to the platform.”

Labor lawyer Sérgio Pelcerman, however, tells the Techblog that the device can indeed harm the LGPD, if the need and purpose of the data is not specified:

“If I leave my badge on the table and someone has access to it, that person has access to my data. There has to be a limit for regulation, because the employee will feel limited in their day-to-day activities, with an alarm that beeps. There is a degree of control that must exist and is necessary on the part of the employer. But this can be excessive control, to regulate employee activity, to constrain employees. It can lead the company to economic loss in the future”

The lawyer, from Almeida Prado & Hoffmann Advogados Associados, affirms that the data can be considered sensitive; they are a way of mapping an employee’s routine, and sharing with others can be tricky.

TIM has a contract with Engineering to provide the Smart Proximity technology, along with the badge, within its IoT marketplace, the operator’s B2B service. The agreement was signed in November 2020, before Anatel’s approval.

For now, Smart Proximity is only available to the agribusiness sector, such as farms and slaughterhouses. To the Techblog, TIM confirmed the contract. However, she did not answer if she was already selling the badge before Anatel’s confirmation.

The report should be updated with new information from Tim.

Collaborated: Everton Favretto

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