Anti-viral tech: From smart masks to wearable air purifiers, technology is at the forefront of the fight against the virus today

December 20, 2020 6:00 AM

It has, in fact, become a way of life, with schools and work going online. And now even personal protective equipment is coming tech-enabled.

LG’s Puricare, a mask-like wearable air purifier

By Reya Mehrotra,

Masks and sanitisers are no longer the only weapons to fight the invisible demon that has taken on the world. Technology is at the forefront of the fight too. It has, in fact, become a way of life, with schools and work going online. And now even personal protective equipment is coming tech-enabled. Take, for instance, masks. Tech-enabled masks are here and promise better safety and convenience.

In November, following the Make in India vision, Delhi-based Desmania Innovation Labs introduced the first-ever Full-Face Protective Gear AARMR BREEZ93 (Nanotech Filter) for travel, work and leisure activities, and Extra Safe Full-Face Mask AARMR MEDEX99 (Nanosurge Filter) for healthcare and medical professionals after extensive research by an experienced team of designers. The equipment has been designed to combine a face mask, face shield and goggles to provide comprehensive protection against infection, pollution and injury.

Japanese startup Donut Robotics’ C-Mask can translate Japanese into eight other language

The company spokesperson shares that the face protective gear AARMR BREEZ93 has 93% PFE (Particle Filtration Efficiency) for 10 micron particle size, while AARMR MEDEX99, the full-face mask, has 98.3% PFE for 0.3 micron particle size, protecting the user from dust and germs present in the air. Nanotech, used in the former, is a single-layered filter suitable for use in areas such as offices, malls, public spaces, etc, while Nanosurge, used in the latter, is a double-layered filter suitable for use in spaces with high risk of contamination such as hospitals, etc. The full-face protective gear is also equipped with an antimicrobial foam seal that allows it to sit snug on the face with complete sealing. Taking note of the fact that many complain of breathing problems while wearing a mask, these new products have scientifically-designed air passage for ease in breathing and are spacious enough to make a user feel free and comfortable. For defogging eye glasses, a problem faced by those who wear spectacles, the AARMR has D-fog technology.

Godrej’s Eon Allure range of washing machines comes with Germ-shield technology for a sanitised wash experience

Desmania Labs is not the only one integrating tech in protective gear and masks. Home electronics company LG has also introduced Puricare, a mask-like wearable air purifier, along with a UV-enabled case for sanitisation. The purifier uses a respiratory sensor to absorb clean filtered air and allows ease of breathing. Japanese startup Donut Robotics, too, has seized the opportunity and has created a unique language translator mask that can translate Japanese into eight other languages. The C-Mask was designed to break social distancing barriers in the post-pandemic world.

Adding another feather in mask innovations, a Cornell University-based team came up with the idea of Vital Mask. The 3D-printed mask places sensors around the mouth, nose and earlobes to monitor oxygen levels, heart rate, body temperature, etc, and is compatible for use in hospitals. The team even formed a startup called Vita Innovations for the same, which eventually won the 7th Annual AI Health Hackathon in New York and stood third in the IBM’s Coronavirus Prize.

The race for innovation among brands is on and raging, and the competition is only getting tougher with newer technologies by the day. Not just its masks, LG’s refrigerators, too, have been fitted with sterilising ultraviolet lights that were previously used in water purifiers. Godrej is also not far behind and recently launched its hot wash-enabled washing machines. The Eon Allure range comes with Germ-shield technology for a sanitised wash experience and kills allergens and bacteria with its built-in heater technology. It has been certified to eliminate five types of disease-causing bacteria and 12 types of allergens. Whirlpool, too, has followed suit with a built-in water heating system for its washing machines. Mark Chloe, senior vice-president, digital appliances business division, Samsung, in fact, recently admitted that all product development is now being done through the lens of hygiene.

Then there is e-commerce company Droom Technology, which is also using Germ-shield technology to sanitise fleets of police cars and bikes in Gurugram. The anti-microbial surface protection shield is said to be effective against viruses like SARS for upto three months and comes at a nominal price. The coating can be used on any surface like that of elevators, ATM kiosks, etc. It can even be used in schools and offices, and is better than disinfectant sprays, as it stays effective for a longer period. The process takes 10-15 minutes and another 15 minutes to dry without leaving any smell or odour.

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