Technology to the rescue

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the brakes on several labs and research projects around the world, but at the same time, it’s pushed several companies and researchers to develop technologies and gadgets to fight the virus. As expected, CES 2021 showcased a lot of pandemic-inspired gadgets and technologies, including smart masks, wearables to detect the virus, and sanitizing robots! We’ve rounded up a list of 10 gadgets, unveiled at CES 2021, all aimed at protecting us from the coronavirus and minimizing its spread.

Oblio

Did you know your phone probably has 17,000 copies of bacterial genes stuck to it? Well, a recent study by the US National Library of Medicine discovered just that! Oblio – A Qi-certified wireless charging station – has been designed by Lexon to make the process of sanitizing your phones easy for you. The company says it not only cleans your smartphone screen quickly and discreetly but also charges your phone. With built-in UV LED technology, Oblio embarks a UV-C anti-bacterial light that kills 99.9 per cent of germs on your smartphone’s screen in 20 minutes. And they are not just saying, Oblio is actually laboratory tested against common bacteria. You want this right now, don’t you?

ShortWaveLight Purifier by NS Nanotech

NS Nanotech highlighted its far-UVC ShortWaveLight Purifier which generates far-UVC germicidal light to disinfect the user’s personal workspace and airspace. Launching this year, the ShortWaveLight Purifier is powered by NS Nanotech’s solid-state ShortWaveLight Emitter, a component that emits far-UVC germicidal light to neutralize coronavirus and other pathogens on surfaces and in the air. The range of UV light known as far-UVC can inactivate pathogens, including coronaviruses, by attacking their RNA and making it impossible for them to reproduce. And recent scientific studies have found that with its short wavelength of 230 nanometers or less, far-UVC light does not penetrate living cells on the surfaces of skin and eyes.

Kinsa smart thermometer

The Kinsa smart thermometer and Triage App can help employers and schools safely bring staff and students back to work and school. The app reminds users to take their temperature, effectively screening students and employees before they leave their homes. For users who have fevers or are showing symptoms, the app also guides them to the care they need, linking to existing benefits or resources based on the school or company. There are more than 1 million Kinsa smart thermometers in the U.S. Kinsa says it has been aggregating public health data from its more than 1 million thermometers across the U.S. to build a robust information system to identify areas at risk of a more severe coronavirus outbreak. 

Wosh water filter and dispenser by Wota

Flexing tech muscle in the COVID-19 fight, Japanese startup Wota showcased a portable water filter system that uses artificial intelligence and sensors to filter and dispense clean water for hand washing. What’s interesting about this gadget is that it does not require a connection to water mains and can therefore be put at places like entrances of supermarkets and restaurants to ensure optimal cleanliness and hygiene. Wosh comes with two activated carbon filters and one RO membrane to remove impurities/viruses. Wota says it plans to launch Wosh in the U.S. later this year.

iDistance by iWavenology

iWavenology, a startup led by Professor Shau-Gang Mao of the National Taiwan University (NTU), who is an expert in the areas of wireless communication and signal processing, created iDistance – a wearable device to potentially help stop the spread of Covid-19. iDistance uses UWB technology for distance measurement and can be worn as an armband, neckpiece, or a watch. The device can process up to 50 users simultaneously within 1 second, explaining that the UWB technology is 10 times more accurate than the Bluetooth solution to have centimetre accuracy without using personal data or cameras, according to Mao. Some of its key features include privacy protection allowing users to log without sensitive data, the ability to be used in indoor and outdoor scenarios, use for line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight environments, and low power usage. Mao said the product has already been used at an elderly care facility in Taipei, and has received orders from factories across the U.S., UK and India. Each device starts at $50 depending on the size of the order.

Adibot by UBTech Robotics

Intelligent humanoid robotics and AI technologies company UBTech Robotics introduced at CES 2021 Adibot: UV-C disinfecting robots – the newest additions to its portfolio of humanoid robots. These robots use ultraviolet light to disinfect surfaces and can be stationed in classrooms, hotels or at hospitals. The high-end models come equipped with cameras and sensors allowing them to move autonomously, according to the company which has already developed robots that can take temperatures and are deployed in hospitals and department stores. In the U.S., the price of Adibot’s stationary model is $20,000 each while the model with autonomous features costs $40,000. There are regional differences in pricing.

LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier

LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier uses HEPA filters and features a respiratory sensor that detects the cycle and volume of the wearer’s breathing to make it a more comfortable experience. It features a washable face pad, and disposable filters that can be replaced as and when needed to keep it clean for repeated use. What’s more? By minimizing air leakage around the nose and chin, the ergonomically designed air purifier prevents glasses from fogging up! Along with the wearable air purifier, the company has also unveiled a case for it which it says features UVC-LED that can kill most of the bacteria and viruses within 30 minutes. It also supports LG ThinQTM to check the operation status.

MaskFone by Hubble Connected

Designed to help reduce the need to adjust or remove your face mask to speak on a mobile phone, MaskFone features replaceable PM2.5 and N95/FFP2 filters, a built-in microphone, and earphones. It is not an FDA approved product and not intended for use in a medical setting. The company also doesn’t make any claims of antimicrobial protection, antiviral protection, particulate filtration, or infection prevention or reduction. Equipped with multi-layered protection, three included PM2.5 filters and some quirky tech, this mask comes in different sizes and is currently priced at US$50

LG CLOi UV-C Sanitizing Robot

LG Autonomous Robot is another COVID-19 inspired robot to have been unveiled at the CES this year. What makes it unique is its design and capability to efficiently disinfect various commercial environments using UV-C light. The newest addition to LG’s CLOi Family of Robots uses ultraviolet (UV-C) light to disinfect high-touch, high-traffic areas. Because of its autonomous design, the robot will be able to move easily around tables, chairs and other furniture, generally irradiating a room’s touchable surfaces in 15 to 30 minutes, disinfecting multiple areas on a single battery charge, according to the company. LG Business Solutions USA says it plans to offer the UV robot to U.S. hospitality, education, corporate, retail, restaurant, and transportation customers in early 2021. 

BioIntelliSense BioButton

Designed to create an early warning system about the symptoms of the coronavirus, this coin-sized wearable, disposable device gathers data on temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of the user. BioIntelliSense BioButton is an FDA-cleared medical-grade wearable for continuous vital sign monitoring for up to 90-days (based on configuration). It has to be paired with the BioMobile app which conducts daily screening surveys to establish COVID-19 risk status with ‘cleared’ and ‘not cleared’ notifications for users before they leave for work or school. BioButton’s continuous temperature and vital signs monitoring, combined with advanced analytics, enables the BioButton to identify statistically meaningful trends and screen for early potential COVID-19 infection. 


Previous articleThe wackiest (and a few not so wacky) gadgets from CES 2021
Next articleA brief history (so far) of quantum computing [PART 3]
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494.