Social distancing gadget invented by Bristol duo goes worldwide

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A gadget which helps with social distancing is now being used by companies around the world after it was invented by two West Country entrepreneurs.

Harry Kimberley-Bowen and Ronan Finnegan, from Bath, created Spacebands during the first few months of the pandemic.

The idea came to them after speaking to teachers, who were concerned about returning to school and managing social distancing.

Ronan and Harry invented Spacebands during the first few months of the pandemic.

Harry explained: “We looked on the market and there was nothing in terms of wearables that helped to aid social distancing in classroom environments, so we created the Spacebands to do just that.

“That was the primary focus for us, but since then, we've spread across sectors such as media, manufacturing, offices, chainsaw schools. 

The devices - which can be worn like a watch - beep if they come too close to someone else wearing one.

Companies using them to help workers maintain social distancing include Logoplaste, which has a site in Coleford, Gloucestershire.

Plant manager Richard Needham said: “To start with, they were going off all the time but now everyone has got used to them. Everyone is keeping the two metre distance.

Staff at Logoplaste in Coleford using the Spacebands.

"And what we're finding is it's useful not just for the Covid thing, it's the Health and Safety side of it as well where it tells you if someone is close to you."

A sign of the times?

Dr Nilufar Ahmed, who is a lecturer in social sciences at Bristol University, said the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change - in society, technology and workplaces.

"Technology has always changed society,” she explained.

Dr Nilufar Ahmed, from Bristol University

“You think about the agricultural revolution, industrial revolution, and it's always had that big impact in changing how society works.

"The pandemic has been a catalyst for the next big change for us. 

“I think we've seen in the pandemic people are resorting to things that were already around - the online apps for various things, the video calls system - but people have been taking that up more.”

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