Ford Tests Buzzing Wristbands to Keep Six-Foot Distance Between Factory Workers

The wearable tech could help Ford reopen idled plants across the U.S.

Like essentially every other automaker, Ford is largely on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to safely reopen its idled factories and resume production. Of course, worker safety is one of the company’s biggest concerns, and it’s looking to solve that conundrum with wearable technology.

A number of Ford workers are reportedly experimenting with a “wearable social-distancing device”, according to Bloomberg. The devices, which come in the form of a small wristband, monitor how close workers are to one another and will vibrate if they come within six feet to remind them of proper social distancing procedure.

The small pilot program is said to consist of a dozen factory employees at Ford’s Plymouth, Michigan facility and may be just the beginning of the brand’s increased safety protocols. The Blue Oval says it’s working closely with the United Auto Workers union to develop measures aimed at preventing the spread of infection.

The automaker will provide its workers with masks and, in some circumstances, face shields, all while thermally scanning its employees upon entering a facility to preemptively detect a fever. Employees will reportedly also be required to complete a daily online survey on their health and record who they come in contact with.

Presently, the majority of Ford’s plants are idled and waiting to reopen along with the rest of the U.S. economy. The few plants which still have the lights switched on aren’t manufacturing cars, but instead working to build emergency ventilators, face shields, respirators derived from car parts, and personal protective equipment from airbag material.

Ford plants may reopen as early as next month, though no official date has been set in stone. The automaker’s earlier approximations have been stalled by complications surrounding the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

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