Before April, Radiant RFID, a 16-year-old tech company based in Austin, was mainly in the business of tracking equipment around the workplace. Radiant’s tags, which can use Bluetooth or GPS, can be stuck to anything valuable, like a crash cart in a hospital or a specialty tool in an auto manufacturing plant. Then, the object’s location can be constantly tracked through Radiant’s website or app.
But the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the company to stand up an entirely new business: tracking worker interactions.
Radiant now sells a stripped-down Samsung smartwatch as a social distance monitoring tool. When an employee wears the watch, it constantly searches for other similar devices worn by other employees, and estimates their distance based on how strong that signal is. If a strong signal is detected for more than 15 minutes, the interaction is recorded and uploaded to the cloud for the company to reference later if a worker tests positive. In addition, an employer can opt to use the device to monitor the specific location of individual employees.
The watches were initially designed for workers in auto manufacturing in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Kenny Ratton told OneZero. (It’s been reported that Radiant currently has a contract with Ford, but Radiant would not confirm that to OneZero.) Since then, Ratton says, Radiant has sold more than 10,000 of these smartwatches to companies across the United States in education, warehouses, and production plants, and claims that it can’t keep up with demand.
Companies like Radiant are revamping their product lines to help employers monitor workers’ movements and interactions with colleagues.
The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a gold rush for companies selling surveillance technology as an immediate solution to a new slate of challenges. Are workers healthy? Are they keeping a safe distance from one another? Companies like FLIR now sell thermal imaging cameras to check people’s temperatures from a distance, while…