i3 | May 27, 2020

The Tech Industry Innovates

Cindy Loffler Stevens

The consumer tech industry is marshaling its entrepreneurial spirit to develop solutions to battle the coronavirus. Here is a sample of the inspiring, innovative work that is happening in diverse areas.

Making Face Masks

Nomad, a maker of consumer technology accessories including chargers, cases and cables, is shifting its focus to making medical supplies, starting with face masks. In an article in Oracle’s Protocol newsletter, Noah Dentzel, Nomad's CEO and Co-founder Brian Hahn are working with factory partners in China and have ordered 50,000 masks. They also are looking into producing surgery gowns, face shields and thermometers.

GM, Ford Produce Ventilators

General Motors Co., along with ventilator firm Ventec Life Systems, has more than 1,000 GM workers making ventilators at its Kokomo, Indiana, plant. The automaker aims to begin mass production and to make 10,000 ventilators a month by summer. Ford Motor Co. says it will produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan in cooperation with General Electric’s health care unit. It can then build 30,000 per month as needed to treat patients afflicted with the coronavirus.

3D Printing Medical Shields

Stephanie Keef and Isaac Budmen who run Budmen Printers in upstate New York, are making medical face shields from their basement as reported by CNN. It takes about 58 minutes to 3D print a visor. With 16 printers running around the clock and volunteers to assemble the products, they have produced nearly 400 shields. Their database connects those in need of medical supplies with a network of other small 3D printers with nearly 40,000 requests from the medical community.

Pepper can Disinfect

During the COVID-19 shutdown, robots can go where it’s not safe for humans. Softbank Robotics’ robot Pepper, can be used in hospitals to communicate and in airports to limit human interaction. Its ‘Autonomous Cleaning Solution’ can help clean busy public areas like airports, transit stations and schools without putting people at risk.

Risk Screening

Humetrix has developed a new COVID-19 infection risk screening and warning feature for users of its iBlueButton platform that is focused on the elderly. The mobile app sends personal health care guidance and warnings to seniors at risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms.

The BioSticker

BioIntelliSense developed a wearable device, the BioSticker, that detects metrics including fever, shortness of breath and coughing, the hallmarks of COVID-19. The FDA-cleared BioSticker medical device is worn on the upper left chest for remote data capture. It lets users “stick it on and forget it.” The physician prescribed BioSticker is the first single-use medical device for up to 30 days of continuous vital sign monitoring.

Innovation at Retail

Best Buy is offering curbside pickup service at their retail stores for tech products that connect, inform and entertain people, and enable remote work and learning. Best Buy also will open 200 of its 1,000 stores in May to customers who make appointments for consultations with sales associates in addition to resuming in-home installation, repairs and deliveries.

Free Rides

Uber is ramping up its response to the pandemic, pledging 10 million free rides and food deliveries for health care workers, senior citizens and others affected by the outbreak.

A Teen Tracks the Virus

17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, from Mercer Island, Washington, created a website in December to track the coronavirus while it was still only in China. It tracks deaths, number of cases locally and globally, has an interactive map, information on the disease and a Twitter feed. It updates every minute, and pulls data from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and elsewhere and is used by tens of millions globally. Access the site at nCoV2019.live

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