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RightCrowd (AU) develops contact tracing wearable in Flanders

When the novel coronavirus emerged, Australian scale-up RightCrowd quickly realized there would be a need within companies to trace the virus in order to resume activities safely. That’s why the company charged its R&D division in Flanders with the mission to expand on its secure badging system to include a contact tracing function. One 8-week sprint later, the first batch of corona-proof digital badge holders are being shipped around the world.

Social distancing wearable

Expanding on an existing product

The social distancing function was added to an existing product: the patented Presence Control solution – which was also developed in Flanders by Ticto, a start-up that was acquired by RightCrowd. With that smart badge holder, companies can make sure that only authorized personnel are present in any given area at any given time. 

“Because we already had a solid base to work from, we were able to develop our wearable extremely quickly,” Bart Vansevenant, chief product officer at RightCrowd, explains. “In just 8 weeks, we went from the initial idea to a finished, marketable product. The best part is that we can serve both our existing customer base through a simple software update, as well as our new customers.” 

Three main functions

The RightCrowd wearable works on three levels: 

  1. It creates awareness among company staff through visual triggers. These are less intrusive than auditory triggers and will leave people feeling less reprimanded than sirens, but still signal the need for social distancing.  

  1. It monitors all close contact events that take place and stores the data. This allows companies to look at where and when these contacts happen, and how they can be prevented in the future. 

  1. It allows for the exact tracing of previous contacts. If someone is infected, the company can use its database to identify who that person has been in close contact with over the past few days or weeks. This allows for targeted testing and facilitates the containment of the virus, ensuring that the facility can safely remain open. 

In collaboration with Flanders’ ecosystem

The reason why RightCrowd acquired Ticto and decided to keep all R&D activities in Flanders is the region’s excellent ecosystem. “We are located both in Ghent and on the Corda Campus in Hasselt, an innovative business community where many other forward-thinking companies are housed as well,” Bart explains. “It is truly a breeding ground for great ideas.” 

“Additionally, we were able to collaborate with COSIC, the cryptography department of Leuven University (KU Leuven), one of Europe’s most innovative universities and one of the top 100 universities in the world, on the initial development of our security product. We received government support as well: Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) provided us with funding to develop prototypes, and FIT (Flanders Investment & Trade) subsidies helped us participate in trade fairs to promote our product. 

Ramping up production

The social distancing and contact tracing wearable has meant a huge expansion of RightCrowd’s client base. “Our original product was focused on high-secure operations, which is a relatively niche market”, Bart explains. “However, this wearable is a great solution for a much wider range of companies – particularly those that have a production facility they are eager to start back up again. It started with orders from Belgium and the US, but by this point we have orders rolling in from all around the world.” 

Needless to say, the demand for the RightCrowd wearable is high. The company’s main priority is scaling up in order to increase its production capacity. Bart: “We are hiring new engineers to meet market demand and enrich our product further, with additional reporting features, for example. Any engineers out there who like a fast-paced environment and an international product: give us a shout!” 

More info

Reported by
27 May 2020

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