5 Oct 2020

Smart Badge – Harry’s Pivot Pays Off

by Jason Allen

When the events industry shutdown, the team at Harry the hirer got to work. In addition to their vast staff of production professionals, Harry also employ six full time IT staff that create custom software and firmware for the business.

Over the years, this has included the hire management software that powers the business. Now, they faced a new challenge.

Bringing together systems and hardware that Harry had previously used for separate applications, they have created Smart Badge, the first integrated, wearable social distancing and contact tracing system available in Australia.


Designed initially to get the events business up and running, the enormous potential of this suite of products has been realised across Australia, including in primary industries.

Launched under new business entity Smart Badge, General Manager Simon Finlayson has overseen a rollout with successful trials in the meat processing industry, construction, and aged care.

“The food processing industry is where Smart Badge initially took off,” says Simon. “It’s been adopted by meat, poultry and the dairy industry. Dairy in particular is entering its peak season and they just can’t afford a shut-down.

“Smart Badge is about businesses being able to ‘control the controllables’, move fast, and not have to wait for DHHS contact tracing.”

General Manager Simon Finlayson

The Smart Badge system sees workers wearing a ‘fitness tracker’ or lanyard style Bluetooth device. Its badge number has been paired with the wearer’s contact details in the back-end of the system.

The device issues a tone and vibration warning if the 1.5 meters distance rule has been breached and logs who has been in contact with each other. All data is stored on a cloud server, and if a COVID-19 infection is reported, businesses can act immediately with the data they instantly have to hand.

Smart Badge is about businesses being able to ‘control the controllables’, move fast, and not have to wait for DHHS contact tracing.

With accurate and instant contact tracing the technology can prevent an entire organisation from closing by identifying specific user interaction and locations, negating unnecessary isolation of staff and deep cleaning of areas not affected.

“The badges run low energy Bluetooth 5.0 and the portable network Nodes that create the network for the system are battery powered, and can use 4G cards if necessary,” illustrates Simon.

“We have an Entry Column that you can station at the door to a space that has a screen updating the numbers of badges already inside, and can display a ‘site full’ warning.

“There’s a Mailbox Return Column with a gateway inside it that automatically gathers data from returned badges and then turns them off. Staff then pull them out, sanitise, and hang up for re-use.

“Industries like live production can choose to mute the proximity alerts if necessary, but all the proximity and contact tracing data are retained.”

All contact tracing data is stored securely in the cloud via Microsoft Azure. As users move around a space, the Nodes collect their data and upload to Azure. Site managers get access to all the data via a website portal, with no software to install.

A business just needs to buy the badges, get their log-in code, and they can see all proximity and contact tracing data in real-time.

Amazingly, the Smart Badge team developed and deployed this system from scratch in under two and a half months. “The team did a great job of software development in an extremely short time frame,” praises Simon.

“To get the hardware up and running that quickly is a feat in itself. They should be recognised for the turnaround.”

With literal containers full of the tech already landed and more to come, sales have already been enthusiastic. “We’ve moved nearly all of what we have, and a significant amount of what’s on the way,” reports Simon.

“We are fielding lots of enquires from business events planning for 2021, particularly in NSW. We’re also talking to some of the bigger agencies and international events.”

The Smart Badge System – How It Works

Smart Badge
• Simple wearable device

• Wristband, Lanyard or Watch style

• Badge gives social distancing alerts if user is within 1.5m of another wearer

• Alerts via a beep, vibrate or flash

• Communicates with Software and Node to track wearer locations and close contacts

• USB rechargeable battery with 14 days power at 12hrs per day.

Beacon Software
• Standalone Software designed to control badge functionality and deliver accurate contact tracing

• Smart Badge & Beacon Software shares information via Bluetooth technology

• Software registers wearer’s data via QR code in secure portal

• Software controls badge functionality and contact tracing via online portal.

Node Points
• A ‘Node’ is the device providing connection between the badge and online software portal

• WiFi, Ethernet and inbuilt 4G versions available allowing plug and play deployment

• Minimum of two nodes are required at entry and exit points for technology to work

• The more nodes used will deliver greater levels of information and location mapping.

• Web-based platform

Additional Hardware
• Capacity Control Units: an LCD display showing maximum numbers and if the limit has been reached for that space.

For contactless registration, entry, and exit:
• Entry Peg Column – workers can grab their badge directly from here

• Grouping Device – LCD display that allows families or housemates to group badges

• Return Mailbox – contactless return and automated deactivation of badges upon exit.


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