Does sensor technology from Twente keep students 1.5 metres away from each other?

Staying 1.5 metres apart is now the norm. But what will colleges and universities look like with this new norm? Sensor technology from Twente can keep teachers and students alert. Rudy Oude Vrielink is a UT PhD candidate and expert in educational logistics. He is developing sensor technology for lecture halls that can accurately monitor the use of the hall, as well as the number of people in it.

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In short

  • Staying 1.5 metres apart is the new norm, for lecture halls and classrooms as well.
  • UT PhD candidate and expert in educational logistics Rudy Oude Vrielink is developing sensor technology that can accurately monitor the room’s activity and use. 
How do you keep social distance in a lecture hall?

It is essential to keep a safe physical distance if it becomes possible to give physical instead of digital lectures again soon. But how do you stay one and a half metres apart in a lecture hall? Much is still unknown. Rudy Oude Vrielink got his idea during his promotion. He is convinced that his technology can be used to register whether students are sitting at least one and a half metres apart.

 

“The technology is normally used for determining whether colleges in higher education institutions can be moved into a smaller, bigger or more suitable room. In other words, this technology is already able to register how many people are present in a lecture hall at any given time. Much more is possible, however. The sensors can also indicate where the people are exactly. It can measure the distance between all people in the hall, which means this system can be used to detect whether students are one and a half metres apart.”

 

It works like this: the sensors are secured at very precise spots in the lecture halls. Light is an important factor in this. The sensors must be in the right place for accurately measuring the distance between students. Teachers or students can then be notified if the lecture hall is full, or if students are not sufficiently distant from each other. “This will be completely anonymous and GDPR-proof, no faces are visible, no images are saved, and the data remains protected”, according to Oude Vrielink.

Testing

The sensor technology is being developed for the education sector, according to Oude Vrielink. Still, it could also be useful for other sectors. “These sensors can measure distances between people very accurately if they are in the same place for a longer period. This technology should, therefore, also be used in cinemas and theatres. But before that, I want to test my technology first. I have extensively studied these sensors, and I am convinced they work. Still, I need to see them in practice. I want to know they perform as expected”, says Oude Vrielink. He is already in contact with various educational institutions, and they are going through his proposals. To be continued…

Date: 12 May 2020
Source of tekst: Universiteit Twente
Author: Twente Board

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