T he campaign against Covid-19 (abbreviation for Corona Virus Disease 2019) is happening on many fronts at the same time, in India as well as the rest of the world. While doctors, nurses, and other members of the healthcare profession are correctly described as ‘frontline warriors’ they are amply supported by a broad canvas of other people.
Researchers in bio-sciences, engineers, and communication professionals form an important part of this. Equally significant are organisations such as DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisations) and its partners including Bharat Dynamics, INMAS (Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences), and so forth.
Leading the pack is the DRDO, which is normally focused entirely on ballistic missiles and weapon systems, but is now devoting a lot of time and resources to products designed to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. It has come out with an impressive series of innovative products and sealed agreements with a long list of manufacturing partners to scale up the production of these items.
Just this month, it announced the development of what it calls a Suraksha Kawach, a multi-probe temperature scanner, an EconoWISK, and a multi-purpose door opener. These are just a few illustrative examples, not a complete list. In addition, Bharat Dynamics, widely considered as DRDO’s manufacturing partner, has put together a low-cost ventilator in association with Nocca Robotics, a start-up company incubated by IIT Kanpur.
DRDO’s Suraksha Kawach is intended as a tamper-proof solution for the tracking of Covid-19 patients. The device, based on IoT (Internet of Things) technology, requires the subject being tracked and monitored to wear an armband or ankle-band which is then linked to a GPS. A system for multiple alerts to be sent to local administrative bodies and city police are incorporated into the software. In addition, the system can also be integrated with Arogya Setu or any other mobile application through a Bluetooth low energy chip. Even better, the battery will last for approximately 21 days which would cover the quarantine period of most non-symptomatic patients who happen to test Covid-positive.
Sometime last month, engineering students and medical experts in Kerala put their heads together to build a WISK (Walk-in Swab collection Kiosk). The idea was that the healthcare worker conducting the Covid-19 test could sit inside the kiosk with proper protection for themselves, while the person being tested sits on a chair placed in front. The health worker inserts his hand into a pair of gloves and takes the swab sample from the subject’s mouth and nose. The kiosk can be set up anywhere within a short time, and a large number of people examined very swiftly. Now the DRDO has gone one step ahead, building a cheaper version known as the Econo-WISK. This is designed as an assembly of durable rexine and transparent plastic sheet over an easy to assemble frame made of square tubes of mild steel. There is a wooden base with a linoleum sheet, as well as a detachable table outside the kiosk. The product is easy to assemble at the site and has a better internal air circulation scheme. The product is designed considering Indian anthropometric parameters, thereby enhancing the ergonomics.
Another promising device designed by the DRDO scientific team is a multi-purpose door opener, which enables a potentially infected person to use a variety of touchpoints such as door handles, ATM entrances, elevator keypads, etc without actually touching them with his hand. The gadget has two main components – a hook and cover. When a door handle, cupboard, etc has to be opened, the hook connects with the door and opens it in much the same way as we use our fingers. The tip of the hook can be used to operate keypads or lifts, ATM touchpads, etc. The cover of the tool enables the user to sanitise the used surface immediately afterward. The most interesting aspect is that the entire device can be 3D printed, rather than manufactured mechanically.
he campaign against Covid-19 (abbreviation for Corona Virus Disease 2019) is happening on many fronts at the same time, in India as well as the rest of the world. While doctors, nurses, and other members of the healthcare profession are correctly described as ‘frontline warriors’ they are amply supported by a broad canvas of other people.