17 Jul 2020 20:06 IST

IIM-K’s start-up develops a wearable device to monitor social distancing

The Veli wrist band plays a sound-alert whenever you’re in close proximity to someone

As the country continues to register a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases and with the increased attempts to unlock businesses and economy, social distancing norms at the workplace become even more critical. An Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIM-K) based incubatee start-up has come up with a unique, user- friendly, and wearable device that sets off an alarm when there’s a violation of the social distancing norms. Known as the ‘Veli band’, this wearable device, has been developed by Qual5 India Pvt Ltd, a start-up co-founded by Kiranmayee Mallepaddi and Srinivasan Arumugam, and funded by IIM K’s business incubator and entrepreneurship development centre, LIVE.

Scope of Veli band

“The device provides information on which bands or employees have violated the set norms, and this information can help in contact-tracing, if need be, in Covid-19 positive scenarios. The data can also be used to monitor crowded areas to take necessary precautionary actions,” said Kiranmayee.

The Veli band momentarily vibrates, plays a sound-alert, and flashes LED simultaneously, to notify the wearers that another band is within three feet, reminding them to maintain social distance. The device is to be worn on the wrist, and it can anonymously keep track of interactions with other devices, too. So, it not only helps in maintaining a safer workplace, but it also aids in tracking employee movements in real time. Veli band is omni directional, comes with a rechargeable battery and uses Bluetooth low energy technology for detection.

Necessity-driven innovations

“As of today, India is the third most Covid-affected country in the world. It is apparent that we will have to live with this situation till there is an effective vaccine in the market. Businesses and organisations cannot remain stagnant for long, they need to keep functioning. Kiranmayee’s Veli band is not just an example of women emerging as business leaders and founders, but also as innovators, if opportunities and support are provided by institutions and society at large.

The start-up has recently bagged ₹25 lakh funding under the IIM-K LIVE seed support and assistance programme, and is one of the most promising technology startups in our portfolio” said Prof Keyoor Purani, Executive Director, LIVE, IIM-K.

Shedding further light on the other features of Veli band, co-founders of Qual5 shared that it is different from the other numerous app-based solutions available in the market, because all the other solutions have a drawback when it comes to lack of access to mobile phones for all employees at workplaces, thereby affecting traceability. The price of the Veli wrist band is dependent on the volume of an order. Currently, the cost price of a batch of 100 bands has been set at approximately ₹1,500 a piece. The cost per piece will come down as the volume of orders increases, said Qual5.