How Startups are Building Products to fight COVID-19?

Varad Kitey Varad Kitey
Apr 1, 2020 6 min read
How Startups are Building Products to fight COVID-19?

The number of coronavirus cases has been rising steadily every day not only in India but whole worldwide. The state governments across the country are taking important measures to control the spread of the virus. With the globalized world going into partial or complete lock down over the Covid-19 pandemic, startups in the various sectors are facing a huge stress test and immediate disruption to business as people are encouraged or even forced not to travel. Now much of Indian startup ecosystem has just started to realise the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic as the country goes into lockdown.

Starting as a group of nearly 70 entrepreneurs and investors who had written to the government last week, the “Founders vs Covid-19” group has now become a 600-member crew which includes stakeholders from the healthcare sector, technology industry, the social sector and government. The collective has now transitioned into “Startups vs Covid-19” and is now fighting the coronavirus battle across multiple fronts. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced the “COVID-19 Solution Challenge” to encourage the startups in India to find solution to fight the virus by proposing ideas.

Many entrepreneurs and startups across the world have focused on developing solution to contain the spread of virus. Designers, engineers and programmers are also trying to scale testing through telemedicine, building multistage testing procedures, scaling the manufacturing of test kits and the healthcare infrastructure. It has also built various applications, such as a portal for citizens to report symptoms and a heatmap of the infection based on symptoms reported by doctors.

Startups are helping fight Covid-19 by building Products
Many startups are being encouraged to build Products to fight COVID-19

So here are some products developed across the world to cope with novel coronavirus-

Fever-finding Smart Helmet

The Shenzhen-based Chinese tech firm KC Wearable is also trying to increase testing through telemedicine, building multistage testing procedures, scaling the manufacturing of test kits and the healthcare infrastructure. Further, the group also planning for the path ahead which includes planning for Stage 3 of the pandemic or community transmission. The company has developed a smart helmet that can detect people with a fever up to five metres away and indicates with sounding an alarm when anyone with a high temperature comes close.

The headset, which is already used by police in many cities of China including Shenzhen, Shanghai, etc. It also features an infrared temperature detector, an augmented-reality visor, a camera that can read QR codes, plus wifi, Bluetooth and 5G so it can beam data to the nearest hospital. Equipped with facial recognition technology, the helmet can also display the subject’s name on the AR visor, as well as their medical history. According to the developer, it would only take officers two minutes to scan a queue of more than 100 people with the help of the helmets, while one big hospital would only need 10 such helmets to cover every corner of its site.

3D-printed Ventilator Valves

An Italian startup came to the rescue after a hospital ran out of crucial valves that connect oxygen masks to respirators for its ventilators. The hospital in Chiari, in northern Italy hit hard by the virus, had 250 coronavirus patients in intensive care, and was short of venturi valves – which connect the ventilator to a patient’s face mask, and need to be replaced for each patient.

After the original supplier was unable to provide new valves quickly enough, the hospital put out a call for help. Isinnova contacted the manufacturer, Intersurgical, but was unable to obtain a digital model of the part, so its team decided to reverse-engineer its structure themselves. The first prototype was ready within six hours, with 100 working valves printed and supplied to the hospital within a day.

Also Read: How Entrepreneurs are Helping to Fight COVID-19?

Hands-free Door Opener

Door handles are said to be among the most contagious places in a building or house. Thus, it is advised to refrain from touching the door handles. Belgian 3D printing company Materialise has designed a hands-free door handle attachment under the slogan “Do less harm, use your arm!”. The design, which has been made available to download for free, consists of two simple parts that can be screwed either side of a handle, allowing you to use your arm or elbow to turn the handle.

UV-sanitising Robots

A Danish company developed a sterilising robot looking like a cluster of light swords on wheels. It can kill virus cells and sanitise hospital wards without the need for chemicals. The eight bulbs on each roaming robot emit concentrated UV-C ultraviolet light which destroys bacteria, viruses and other harmful microbes by damaging their DNA and RNA so they can’t multiply.

The robot was launched in early 2019, following six years of collaboration between parent firm, Blue Ocean Robotics and Odense University Hospital. But recent demand has seen boom in production. A similar device has been developed by Chinese firm YouiBot, which took its existing robot base and added thermal camera and UV-C bulbs for disinfection. It has supplied factories, offices and an airport, and a hospital in Wuhan. This helps reduce dependency on chemical-based disinfectants which require rooms to be left empty for several hours during sterilisation,

3D-printed isolation wards

Chinese company Winsun has deployed its rapid 3D-printing technology for manufacturing 15 coronavirus isolation wards in a single day. Those little cabins were originally designed to be used as holiday homes but seeing the demand from overcrowded Chinese hospitals to cope with Covid-19 pandemic, the company increased production the wards.

The company says it uses recycled construction material in the process and claims its structures are twice as strong as a conventional concrete construction. The buildings, which have showers and eco-toilets, were printed with a robotic arm mounted on rails, gradually depositing layers of concrete to build the walls.

Corona 100m App

Coders have joined the battle against coronavirus, racing to develop apps. In South Korea, virus-tracking apps make up six of the most popular 15 downloaded apps, by far the most popular being Corona 100m. Using the wealth of data collected by the government’s testing programme, the app alerts users when they come within 100 metres of a location visited by an infected person. This app is one of the most crucial things developed to fight Covid-19. It needs to be used in India also.

3D-printed face shield

Czech company Prusa, which claims to have the largest 3D printing farm in the world, with more than 500 printers, has started mass-producing protective face shields used by medics. It is manufacturing over 800 a day and has donated 10,000 to the Czech ministry of health. Another firm, Stratasys, has also developed a 3D-printed face shield and masks. According to its CEO, Yoav Zeif: “The strengths of 3D printing, be anywhere, print virtually anything, adapt on the fly, make it capable for helping address shortages of parts related to shields, masks, and ventilators, among other things.”

Virus-fighting Drones

No one needs to mention the need of drones from preventing people from stepping out of their houses. Many governments have started using drones to keep watch but these drones have been modified with more features to fight the coronavirus. The world leader in drone manufacturing, China has used the mini choppers(drones) for everything from fever detection in crowds to disinfecting public spaces, to delivering supplies to remote locations. Drones have also been used to deliver test samples, dramatically cutting journey times.

In France, the police have started using drones to help enforce its lockdown, monitoring parks and public spaces to make sure people are not leaving their homes for non-essential trips, while, in the UK, Northamptonshire police are planning to increase the use of drones, which will be equipped with speakers to transmit public information messages and tell people to get back indoors. In India too, a Tamil Nadu startup is helping government to disinfect roads & hospitals with drones.

Also Read: What will be the Scenario after Coronavirus Outbreak?

Robots at Kerala’s Airports

Kerala Health Minister Shailaja KK has proved to be a strong pillar of strength and support in the time of COVID-19 crisis. Kerala’s Asimov Robotics has developed two robots that are to be stationed in the airports. While one robot distributes sanitisers, masks, and napkins to the people, the other robot streams World Health Organisation’s (WHO) campaign videos and also briefs people about social distancing and other steps to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

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