Social Distancing Sensor device

HI There,

Can you help me on my proposed social distancing project in a grocery store? My plan is to put a chip on the carts but I don’t know how to start it. Your help is appreciated. Thank you.

PIR/ Passive Infra Red sensor linked to an arduino and a battery zip tied to the frame, with a speaker, and maybe a wire wrapped around the whole thing to alarm when someone wants to steal the battery pack with wire clippers?

Sounds like too much effort to be worth it, and if it is on the trolley, has no bearing in the actual shopper who might be two aisles away from the trolley.

Maybe better to ask the customers to wear Bluetooth niclaces with alarms that go off In proximity (jokes, please don’t put shock collars on members of public)


I’d agree bluetooth proximity alarm alerts via wearable/coaster/puck shape device would be another easier option but keeping them clean–wiped down could be more effort than its worth.

Hackaday had reported on a few distancing sensor projects, the key issue with attaching an Arduino style device to a shopping cart would not only be about shoppers not always being near their cart but also the logistics of charging them.
For example in colder environments lithium batteries decline once temps get closer to freezing so if those carts are left outdoors it’ll be a factor, NiCad batteries handle cold better but sourcing high-quality spares isn’t cheap–Enloops are the most reliable for cold environments.

I hate everything about this idea. I can just picture the arguments already of people yelling at each other over beeping trolleys.

EDIT: Sorry at the OP. I’m sure it’s well-intentioned and it’s an innovative idea. But I can’t help but see this just exacerbating the current anger even more. Definitely going to push a few people over the edge.


I am just getting mad reading this idea…


Probably just the unreasonable ones. I am all for tech making our lives easier. Maybe just dont make the alarm harsh, more like just a neutral informative “Ding!” sound.

I worked for a company a few years back that measured bluetooth and 802.11x latency to do positioning.

I’d recommend doing that. PIR and ultrasonic is extremely unreliable when you’re trying to check for the mesh cages that are shopping carts. Then there’s the issue of it picking up the shelves and walls.

Better solution to me would be to track the 4g/bt/802.11 emissions from the people’s phones. It’s passive, doesn’t need consent and is more accurate than cart tracking.

1 Like

Not a fan of the idea myself, but I might be if you made it scream profanity like that dude who hacked his roomba when it bumped into stuff.

1 Like

Personally I think that implementing something like this is economic suicide, especially in a world where more and more people are using grocery delivery services, but if OP wants to implement it, I’ll be watching with popcorn.


Can’t we just issue 6 foot hula-hoops with belt strapping, to everyone who enters? Then people are physically kept apart, and it conjours a silly, but fun image in your head?



I’m changing your title to “luddite”


If you do that, I’d have to take off my wooden shoe, and throw it in the Loom…

1 Like

waste of time and money trying to force people to comply.
better to just ask them and let nature take its coarse.

oh no big deal, its just a buzzer?.
NO!. YOUR BUYING INTO THE FEAR PORN!. oh look your 5.6 feet away POLICE POLICE!? is that the plan?.

stop it…

put your masks on and wash your hands and supplement your diet with vitamin d3 , ESPECIALLY IF YOUR DARKER SKINNED!.
other than that try to be polite and patient when every one else around you is stressed out.


You are far more light hearted and nice to people than my idea.

Cattle prods.

They won’t be long about getting out of the way.

1 Like

And this is exactly what I’m talking about. Dehumanization and nasty attitudes to those who don’t comply. Now it’s talking about electrocuting people who don’t back away from you because you’re beeping at them.


I know I would definitely just damage such a device when no one is looking, so I wouldn’t have to listen to it, nor would anyone who uses that cart after me.


Right, this is getting out of hand. Enough nay-saying, back on track.

I’d use something radio - perhaps beep like a madman when signals interfere? ;).

(or a analog solution of putting people in bubbles (I am actually serious :wink: )

This topic was automatically closed 273 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.