Social Distance Monitor with a Wearable Magnetic Field Proximity Sensor

Sizhen Bian; Bo Zhou; Paul Lukowicz

In: Sensors - Open Access Journal (Sensors), Vol. 20, Page 5108, MDPI, 9/2020.


Social distancing and contact/exposure tracing are accepted to be critical strategies in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. They are both closely connected to the ability to reliably establish the degree of proximity between people in real-world environments. We proposed, implemented, and evaluated a wearable proximity sensing system based on an oscillating magnetic field that overcomes many of the weaknesses of the current state of the art Bluetooth based proximity detection. In this paper, we first described the underlying physical principle, proposed a protocol for the identification and coordination of the transmitter (which is compatible with the current smartphone-based exposure tracing protocols). Subsequently, the system architecture and implementation were described, finally an elaborate characterization and evaluation of the performance (both in systematic lab experiments and in real-world settings) were performed. Our work demonstrated that the proposed system is much more reliable than the widely-used Bluetooth-based approach, particularly when it comes to distinguishing between distances above and below the 2.0 m threshold due to the magnetic field’s physical properties.


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Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence