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COVID-19 technology: Technology Development Board approves new projects

Image credit: Technology Development Board

The Technology Development Board (TDB) is providing financial support for the commercialisation of several new technologies.

TDB, a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), through its funding is proactively supporting the efforts of scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, and industrialists towards preventing and containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last few weeks, TDB has processed a large number of applications under various domains. Currently, as per a press release, TDB has approved six projects.

Thermal Scanners

Hand-held thermometers, a common test to screen the symptoms of virus infections, exposes security personnel and health workers to infection. The removal of current restrictions, due to lockdown, will increase this risk.

Therefore, it becomes imperative to have non-intrusive technologies to monitor body temperature from a distance.

TDB has approved financial assistance to two Bangalore-based companies.

One of the organisations plans to commercialise a low-cost solution to identify people with abnormal body temperatures in a crowd. It will also provide an alert system to notify the identified persons to authorities on their phones and laptops.

An artificial intelligence (AI) software solution for real-time detection using a video analytics platform for alerts, along with a low-cost thermal camera, and GPU servers are being used for real-time abnormal temperature detection.

The product includes features such as detecting and tracking a person without masks, facilities to predict age, gender, race, temperature readings (fever detection), and facial recognition. It can track multiple people in a real-time environment.

The other company will commercialise an infrared thermography-based temperature scanner for rapid measurement and real-time decision. It uses an uncooled microbolometer and video analytics platform.

This has been indigenously developed, providing real-time alerts and analytics using AI and IIOT (industrial internet of things). The product design, imaging processing software, AI protocols development, and configuring of IIOT solutions has been developed in-house with due considerations for reliability and affordability.

The company has also developed server technology, which is a value-added feature to the IIOT systems.

Medical devices

TDB is offering financial assistance to a Coimbatore-based company, which will commercialise battery-powered portable X-ray machines with a digital display as standalone medical radiography equipment suitable for ICUs and isolation wards.

As the device can be taken to a patient’s bedside, it reduces the exposure of infection to the medical staff involved in the process. The battery back-up option is useful for a wireless workflow and continuous operation without power mains.

Masks

Another company located in Pune will get funded for its project that provides the coating and 3D printing of anti-viral agents on masks.

A sodium olefin sulfonate-based mixture is used to coat the mask. It is a soap forming agent with hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. In contact with enveloped viruses, it disrupts the outer membrane of the latter. The ingredients used are stable at room temperature and are widely used in cosmetics.

Diagnostic Kits

A New Delhi-based organisation currently manufactures rapid diagnostic kits for malaria, dengue, and typhoid. It intends to manufacture a fluorescence-based rapid COVID-19 detection kit.

It targets to deploy them commercially in 2-3 months. The fluorescence-based diagnostic kits are reported to be several-fold sensitive and shall be able to provide quantitative results.

Earlier, TDB had approved funding for the first indigenous company to develop a real-time PCR-based molecular diagnostic kit that screens and detects samples of people who display flu-like symptoms.

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