Social Distancing Wristwatch Revealed!


Social Distancing Wristwatch

“After months of global pandemic shutdowns, people will want to feel safe when they return to work, school and social settings,” Renesas Electronics Veep Roger Wendelken says, not unreasonably. To that end, his company has invented “the first LRP UWB social distancing wristwatch solution.” Translation: a watch that alerts you when someone comes within six feet. That’s provided . . .

the other person is also wearing an LRP UWB-equipped wristwatch. Good luck with that. Meanwhile, the technologically literate amongst you must be dying to know what those acronyms stand for; how this commercially dubious timepiece works. There’s a presser for that!

Earlier this year, Renesas announced it had licensed UWB technology from 3db Access AG, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in secure UWB low power chips to augment Renesas microcontrollers (MCUs). The platform’s form factor, a wristwatch, combines the Renesas Synergy™ S128 MCU featuring HMI capacitive touch with licensed secure ranging UWB technology.

Unlike other social distancing wearables based on technologies such as Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE), Renesas’ UWB chipset with Low Rate Pulse (LRP) can operate on 10X lower power consumption than competing UWB chips and measure distances with an accuracy of 10cm or less – the precision necessary for social distancing applications.

The wristwatch’s safe distance is user-configurable; the wearer is alerted by LEDs and haptic feedback when a second device is detected within this range. Renesas will begin sampling the UWB chipset during the second half of 2021.

Just in time to not be needed! And so Renesas is working on other “location-based applications for clients across a broad range of markets.” Notification when a registered sex offender is about to jump you? I’m stumped.

Sinn social distancing watch - EZM 12

Anyway, if you’re paranoid enough to want a social distancing wristwatch, I highly recommend the Sinn EZM-12 (we like Sinn).

The German toolwatch maker designed the the EZM 12 for medical professionals, “particularly those involved in emergency medicine.” People who get covered in blood and guts and other bodily fluids. A list that now includes COVID-19 droplets.

Social distancing watch - Sinn EZM 12

Armed with a penknife and some simple chemicals, an EZM 12 owner can remove the watch’s band and bezel and kill the coronavirus that could kill them dead (picture courtesy True story, about the virus hanging out on your stainless steel watch? Yup. Up to three days.

When mass vaccination is available, this all will be a moot point – unless you’re an anthropophobe or germaphobe. In which case, you have been vindicated. And soon, suitably equipped.


  1. What an underwhelming, late to the party effort by Renesas. Especially considering that watchmakers like Hublot, Franck Muller, Romain Jerome (RIP), and Richard Mille figured out how to design watches that encourage social distancing years ago.

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