GM Develops New Workplace Safety Technology
Aug. 13, 2020—General Motors has developed new technology to aid workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company is sharing its innovations with the world.
According to a press release, the new technologies include an automated kiosk for temperature scanning, software for contact tracing, and a mobile app for touchless printing. While developed to aid the company's workplace protocols, GM has made these tools available to the public for potential use in any workplace, school or facility.
GM's in-house software developers innovated solutions aimed at helping employees return to work with more confidence, streamlining and improving workplace safety protocols.
For temperature scanning, GM developed new software code that integrates the operation of an infrared thermal camera with a computer and monitor, automating and streamlining the entire process. The system automatically detects when someone has stepped in front of the camera and checks for an elevated skin temperature, indicating it is either safe to proceed or the person is in need of further evaluation. The process can take as little as one to two seconds, relieving congestion at workplace entry points and reducing physical contact between workers. The scanning is also effective when the worker is wearing a mask or face covering.
When it comes to workplace contact tracing, GM made improvements to COVID Watch, an open-source contact tracing application, by adding real-time social distance alerts, boosting performance on both iOS and Android devices, and adding support for Bluetooth beacons.
Currently, GM is testing a mobile app for contact tracing that would create a record for the employee, listing other users with whom he or she has been in contact. It can help medical staff reach employees that had contact with a worker testing positive for COVID-19, while maintaining privacy and security. The app also constantly computes the physical distance between users and can send an alert to help encourage safe behavior.
Finally, the new Touchless Print mobile web application now enables employees to print documents from HP Printers without touching the printer's control panel, leveraging instead a QR code scanned through the employee's mobile phone.
These innovations are the latest in a series of pandemic-response actions from the company, including production of critical care ventilators and personal protective equipment such as masks, face shields, and N95 respirators.