Studies have shown that ultraviolet (UV) light exposure at a wavelength of fewer than 290 nanometers alters the microorganism DNA.
Using this concept, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Ropar created a germicidal box that can be put at the doorsteps to sanitize any small item brought from outside, such as groceries and vegetables and currency notes. You just have to put them in the box for 30 minutes.
The spread of COVID-19 has made it a necessity to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and sanitize every object. Knowing that such interventions will continue to be part of the everyday routine of people, several startups and institutes are using science and technology to enhance infection tolerance.
The Germicidal Box
The germicidal box uses ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, a disinfection process that uses short-wavelength UV light to kill or inactivate surface, air, and water microorganisms. The box will cost about ₹500 when it is commercialized.
Muse Wearables, a startup incubated at IIT-Madras, has developed a textile coating machine with a layer of antimicrobial agents based on nanoparticles which it claims could destroy the virus on contact. The coating can last 60 cycles of washing and can be applied to face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), and bags.
Currently, the machine can coat textiles up to 100 meters in length in just a few minutes, but this can be scaled up according to Sai Prasanth, CEO, Conzumex Industries, who runs Muse Wearables. The startup partners with a facial mask manufacturer to build five-layer antiviral N95 masks, which would cost around ₹300 per piece.
“Recent studies have shown that the COVID-19 stays for different periods on different surfaces. It decays very quickly on some surfaces. We identified the mechanism for developing a solution for nanoparticles which could replicate it on other surfaces. We are initially testing it on cotton and cotton-polyester but it can also be used for other fabrics,” Prasanth said.
Because of their special surface structure the nano-coating works only with fabrics.
“We are a wearable tech enterprise. But, after the COVID-19 outbreak, we divided our technical teams into groups to work on different issues. I have a history from my Masters in nano-coating so I wanted to use it to solve this particular issue,” he added.
The DailyObjects accessories maker has developed a portable multifunctional UV sterilizer that can disinfect smartphones, headphones, smartwatches, and other personal accessories within 5 minutes. The price begins at a pace of ₹4,800.
“Smartphones contain sevenfold more bacteria than a seat in a toilet. The personal items that we wear have nearly 10 times the bacterial load compared with shopping carts and doorknobs. And, all of these can potentially hurt us far more than we can imagine,” said DailyObjects CEO and founder, Pankaj Garg.
Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute
Some companies are experimenting with new material that could kill the virus on contact.
The Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), based in Bhavnagar, has developed a face mask made of a modified polysulfone material that is 150 micrometers thick and can kill any virus with a size of 60 nanometres. The diameter of the coronavirus is between 80 and 120 nanometres.
Various health agencies have issued advisories about how one should wash one’s hands to kill the virus. MiazaMirror from Pinktech Design is a smart mirror that can detect a person when he or she waves at it. The business also has a Preventive Version, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which will teach consumers the correct way to wash hands via an animated video. This may serve as a reminder to properly wash hands even when one is in a hurry.
Rokid, a startup based in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, has created smart glasses with an in-built infrared sensor and camera to measure nearby people’s body temperatures and then view them on screen. This can be handy for the screening of passengers by both individual users and authorities.
The Vancouver-based wearable company Proxxi Technologies has created a wristband named Halo, which uses low-power Bluetooth to sense proximity to other similar devices, to help people conform to social distancing norms when working. It vibrates if another person comes in within six feet of the worker.
Startups around the world, including India, have come forward with gadgets and solutions that can help individuals, homes, and authorities contain the outbreak of coronavirus. Many of these goods are being produced with due consideration for prices so that they remain affordable to the masses.