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Pandemic-proof technologies

Six months ago social distancing, hand hygiene and PPEs were terms most of us were only remotely familiar with.

But as the impacts of COVID-19 have spread, so too have the number of new services and products which have sprung up to help fight against it.

Chief among these is the rise of gadgets dedicated to offer protection in the face of this global pandemic.

Below we search out some of the more creative among them, so you don’t have to.

Wearable technology

A Vancouver-based group that previously designed products to help ensure the safety of electrical industry workers has now come up with a device to help monitor social distancing.

Dubbed Halo, the wearable device provides a vibration notification to alert someone of the presence of another band within 1.8 metres to help ensure compliance with social stance guidelines while on a job site or at a workplace, where essential work might be carried out.

The wrist-based device uses Bluetooth to communicate with other bands, while also retaining a log of which other bands they’ve been in contact with to provide internal contact tracing capabilities.

A second device, being developed in the United States, is a wristband that was originally designed to help reduce compulsive skin-picking, nail-biting, and hair-pulling. The design has since been adapted to create a new smart band, called the Immutouch, which buzzes when the wearer’s hand goes near their face.

Hygienic door hooks

Several companies are working on launching hygiene-friendly door-hooks to help us navigate our need to open doors with sanitized hands.

Epidemiologists estimate the coronavirus can live on surfaces like stainless steel for three days, so such devices will go down a treat in hospital wards.

One, dubbed Hygienehook by a London-based designer, is already on the market. It is small enough to fit in a pocket and made from easy-to-clean non-porous material, making it ideal for use in environments where contamination risk is high.

On the radar

A technology that a British company originally developed for use in combat zones is now being trialled for use in the fight against coronavirus.

The device uses ultra-wideband radar to detect the presence of humans — specifically by recognising distinctly human breathing patterns as opposed to animals.

Before the Covid-19 crisis, the company was looking at the possibilities of using the technology for medical applications with trials confirming that the monitor could track differences in breathing down to an accuracy of a quarter of a breath per minute.

This makes it ideal for detecting the sudden breathlessness characteristic of Covid-19 cases, particularly as there is currently no way to systematically measure breathing rate accurately.

The device can be placed on a wall or under a bed and involves no contact with the patient and could be used to spot patients whose breathing suddenly worsens. It is hoped that alongside temperature monitors, it could also be used in offices and places like airports.

Healthy insides

With community bubblers no longer safe to drink from, self-cleaning water bottles look set to take their place as a great way to ensure your drinking water is safe to sip.

One company is in the process of launching an offering that uses an internal UV-C light to purify the contents of the water bottle. At the press of the button the system will sanitise your drinking water in 60 seconds. An onboard micro-USB offers convenient recharges on the go.

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