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Renesas & Altran develop social distancing wearable

18 Nov 2020

Renesas and Altran have come up with a wearable solution that helps people maintain social distancing - all in the form factor of a wristwatch.

The wearable, which uses ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, is able to alert wearers when another device is detected.  It uses a combination of LED lights and haptic feedback. The wristwatch’s safe distance is also user-configurable.

The wristwatch uses the Renesas Synergy S128 MCU, which features capacitive touch and secure-ranging UWB.

Renesas obtained the UWB technology after licensing it from 3db Access AG, a specialist in UWB low power chips for Renesas microcontrollers.

Renesas explains that its UWB chipset with Low Rate Pulse (LRP) can operate on low power consumption and measure distances with an accuracy of 10 centimetres or less.

“After months of global pandemic shutdowns, people will want to feel safe when they return to work, school and social settings in close proximity to others. I’m pleased our collaboration with Altran is about responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with the first LRP UWB social distance wristwatch solution,” explains Renesas MCU business, IoT and infrastructure business unit senior vice president, Roger Wendelken. 

“Renesas plans to expand to more use cases in the future such as access control, asset tracking and geofencing.”

Renesas will begin sampling the UWB chipset during the second half of 2021.

System integrator and co-developer Altran will be showcased in its innovation lab. The company plans to use the UWB platform to develop other wearable solutions designed for social distancing, and will also develop related location-based applications.

“This has been a unique and rewarding project, collaborating with Renesas to bring the first LRP UWB-based social distancing wristwatch to market,” says Altran semiconductor and electronics, industrial and consumer business president, Scott Houghton.

He adds that the platform provides form factor, power, efficiency, and accuracy that fit with COVID- and non-COVID-related applications. 

Renesas  CEO Hidetoshi Shibata was also recently appointed to the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) board of directors.

The GSA comprises 250 corporate members from more than 25 countries, all of whom represent 70% of the semiconductor industry. Advanced Micro Devices president and CEO Lisa Su chairs the GSA board of directors.

“Semiconductors are essential technology enablers that power most of the intelligent devices we use today,” says Shibata. 

“I am proud to join the GSA Board of Directors and add our expertise to the development of innovative solutions in the global collaboration effort, with industry leaders of GSA, which is critical for success in today’s fast-paced and competitive markets.”