The Devon business that’s facilitating a safe return to workPublished: 10th May 2021

An Ashburton company has used the wealth of expertise that’s available to businesses in Devon, to rapidly create and launch a device to inform and reassure people about entering confined public spaces.

Estate Eye, which specialises in smart technology for buildings, has created ‘SAFE ZONE’, an alert system for spaces like washrooms, kitchens and meeting rooms. SAFE ZONE goes beyond the red/green doorway alert systems that have appeared at many shops, as it also provides a range of data insights, including air quality - an important factor in a small public space.  

“We could see that many organisations had put a great deal of effort into establishing social distancing measures in their main areas (e.g. implementing one-way systems, installing hygiene/cleaning stations) but hadn’t done anything about enclosed spaces like toilets, kitchens and meeting rooms.” says Nick Flynn, Director at Estate Eye. 

Estate Eye designed and developed the product with free support from the Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab (Impact Lab). The Impact Lab is a £6.4 million initiative, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It enables Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to access Devon’s leading scientific research centres for help in creating innovative products and services.

Estate Eye worked with design and digital manufacturing specialists at Plymouth College of Art’s Fab Lab to produce an attractive and functional housing system to ensure that SAFE ZONE’s technology is suitable for high-end installations. “It was fantastic to have a fresh pair of eyes to turn our rough sketches into manufacturing-ready drawings, and advise us on methods and materials”, says Nick. 

Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon, says: “Nick and colleagues at Estate Eye have gone from concept to fully-fledged product in less than a year. I’ve been really pleased to follow his journey as an enterprising local constituent who quickly identified a gap in the market to keep people safe in confined spaces.”

SAFE ZONE devices have already been installed commercially, and demand continues to grow from both existing and new clients. The Impact Lab continues to support Estate Eye’s work with plans for a data optimisation project in collaboration with the University of Exeter.