As it is rightly said “The show must go on”, it is the beauty of human life that we can’t stop living, just by surrendering to the irony of the nature. With Corona outbreak becoming devastative and uncontrollable threat for human life across the globe, Innovation, whether it may be technological alongside of inventing medicine or may be strategic to fight and get rid of COVID 19, is need of the hour and mother earth .Technology is playing a significant role in strengthening world’s back in one or the other facets of human life and is helping the world to move ahead. Let us first see few innovations round the globe amidst COVID 19 outbreak.
Use of Robots in Hospitals
Considered as job stealers, amidst this corona pandemic, a team of robots alongside humans is helping in taking care of patients, having important conversation , providing useful information, helping patients in stretching and entertaining them too at hospitals. Hospitals are turning to robots to tirelessly rid room, halls and door handles of viruses and bacteria. Preferably, Doctors and nurses can control the robot by using a computer from outside the room, and can hold conversations with the patient via the screen and camera. The robot reduces the number of “touch points” with patients who are isolated, thereby reducing risk for healthcare workers, Robotic machines can also be sent to scan for the presence of the virus, such as when the Diamond Princess cruise ship cabins were checked for safety weeks after infected passengers were evacuated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.
Seeing the Covid 19 outbreak, mobile ambulances which can have access to the affected area , came as a significant breakthrough for patients at far-flung areas, or not having an immediate access to medical facilities. Hero Moto Corp is donating 60 first-responder mobile ambulances to authorities as part of its ongoing initiatives towards the Covid-19 relief efforts. These mobile ambulances will be useful for reaching out to the patients located in rural and remote areas and comfortably moving them to the nearest possible hospitals. These ambulances have been custom-built as an accessory to be fitted on Hero Moto Corp motorcycles, with an engine capacity of 150cc and above. The ambulance accessories include sleeping arrangement with essential medical equipment such as a first-aid kit, oxygen cylinder, fire extinguisher and siren, the company said. These mobile ambulances will be handed over to authorities in multiple regions across India.
Hands-free door openers
Several varieties of hygiene-friendly door-hook are in the pipeline – intended to help us navigate that tricky moment when we need to open doors with sanitized hands. Epidemiologists estimate the corona virus can live on surfaces like stainless steel for three days, so these devices could be a game-changer in environments such as hospital wards, where hand sanitation is a matter of life and death. Some door-opening devices have already found their way to market – including the “hygiene hook”, created by London-based designer Steve Brooks. Small enough to fit in a pocket and made from easy-to-clean non-porous material, the gadget is already available in four different varieties. Brooks has had requests from NHS Wales and is, meanwhile, donating a hook for everyone he sells.
ANSYS –An US Technology player to assist IIT Kanpur to make ventilators
ANSYS, a US based global engineering simulation company , has entered into an agreement with an IIT-Kanpur led consortium to assist in the development of low-cost ventilators to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in India.
Under the supervision of the consortium, NOCCA Robotics Private Limited, an IIT-K incubated startup, is developing indigenized and low-cost invasive ventilators called Nocca V110, when someone is having severe difficulty in breathing, they may need assistance from a ventilator which is able to move air in and out of the lungs. Invasive and non-invasive ventilators differ in how the air is delivered to the person. An invasive ventilator is the most recommended type of ventilator for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) making it more suitable for COVID-19 affected patients for respiratory support. It is suitable for India as it ensures the safety of frontline doctors dealing with the patients. The machines that can be tested on patients can be out in a few days. Once the prototype is out, the team targets would be to produce 30,000 units by May 2020.
Engineers at NOCCA Robotics have prototypes of a portable machine ready. They are being tested on artificial lungs, a prosthetic device that provides oxygen and removes carbon dioxide from the blood. The entire project is being coordinated by Professor Amitabha Bandyopadhyay, professor-in-charge, Startup Innovation & Incubation Center (SIIC), IIT Kanpur. Ansys is the first company which has joined hands with the consortium and FIRST (Foundation for Innovation and Research in Science Technology), the premier institute’s company that oversees incubation activities of IIT Kanpur, to speed up the development of these ventilators. As part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, Ansys has come forward by offering a dedicated grant to the project that will be utilised for procuring materials, testing, trials and other expenses.
Nocca V110 is a modular, power efficient invasive ventilator that operates in a pressure-controlled mode and the IoT (the Internet of Things) enabled design allows multiple ventilators to be controlled via remote control. It has been designed in a way that it can be manufactured on a large scale at multiple sites using materials easily available with Indian suppliers and manufacturers. Speaking about the CSR agreement, Rafiq Somani , Area Vice President – India and South Asia Pacific, Ansys, said, “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that we are all facing today, one thing that is constantly worrying the government and the hospitals is ventilator shortage.”Nocca Robotics and IIT-Kanpur have created a consortium of biomedical engineers, doctors, R&D leaders, supply chain and medical technology businesses to harness their expertise and take the design from the idea to the actual product.
Available in 11 languages, the app is designed to help in controlling the spread of corona virus and make its information accessible to the common people. This special app also helps in finding out corona positive people present nearby. After downloading app will inquire, about cough, fever or trouble breathing etc. If you do not have any such problem, you will be in the safe zone. Also it helps in basic condition check without having an unnecessary exposure to hospitals.This app tells user to keep the mobile phone’s Bluetooth and location devices on. Whenever the user visits a crowded place, this app keeps on sending messages from nearby mobile phones through the Bluetooth. When the user stands near someone who is also a normal it shows green zone. But if that person becomes corona positive after 10 days, this app will alert you immediately. In such a situation, the user can get themselves checked also. This app also tells about hotspots, so that the user can change the route. This app has launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development is associated with Digital India for the health and well-being of country’s citizen.
Video – Conferencing
Video-Conferencing has become an inevitable tool at hand of all sort of companies, institution or organization so as to provide uninterrupted business services and education across different parts of globe. Companies can convey important strategies, communication and information and formulate action plans immediately by conveying those by video-conferencing despite of lockdown.
Ministry of Electronics and information technology has announced an “innovation challenge for developing video conferencing solution”, Made in India scheme, on 14 th April with winning team having a reward of Rs 1 crore in first year and additional support of Rs 10 lakh for subsequent 3 years ,after 1st year of deployment . To encourage development of world class solution MeitY has come up with this innovative challenge. There would be a funding of Rs 5 lakhs to top 10 selected entries from stage I and certificate of “innovative solution” by MeitY. The teams would present their prototypes to a distinguished jury to select top three entries. The best three entries of Stage-2 will receive ₹20 lakh each to build their solutions following the design principles and best practices, it said. MeitY said the final VC solution should support all video resolutions and audio quality, work in low and high network scenarios, be low on usage of power/ processor, not have any external hardware dependency, and be able to work on any device.
Subsequently video conferencing solution” Google Meet “ , can be used free of cost until September 30.Last month Google had extended its advanced Google Meet video-conferencing features available at no cost to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers till July 1.Owing to global lockdowns amidst the corona virus pandemic, Google has now extended free video-conferencing services till September 30, 2020, to businesses, organizations, institutions, and educators continue to be supported during this time .G Suite and G Suite for Education customers can now host meetings via Meet with up to 250 participants, live-stream sessions to up to 100,000 people within one domain, and save meeting recordings to Google Drive for free. Google generally only offers these features to its “enterprise” G Suite users within a plan that costs $25 per user per month. Google Meet is the recently rebranded version of Google’s Hangouts Meet. Google also said that earlier this week, it had surpassed a new milestone, with more than 2 million new users connecting on Google Meet every day who are spending over 2 billion minutes together.
Video-conferencing apps are witnessing a steep massive surge in usage overall as more people are mandated to stay at home to curb the spread of the corona virus pandemic. For instance, it was found that video-conferencing platform Zoom in March had garnered over 200 million users, up from its 10 million users in last month of 2019.Microsoft’s Teams, Microsoft’s video-conferencing tool saw a 1,000 per cent increase in usage in. It had also been found that a new record of 2.7 billion “meeting minutes” in a single day had been reached on the platform.
Moving ahead we can see use of technology by leading platforms without which it is inevitable to imagine the world, today.
Initiatives by Tech Giants like Google and Facebook
Google had released GPS mobility reports. Google also released an open online resource that aggregates anonymized location-tracking data from mobile devices to share large-scale mobility and behavior trends. The end results are downloadable Community Mobility Reports that highlight movement-trend differences at country, state, county or regional levels. These generally reflect mobility data from two or three days prior, according to the company, and never display absolute visit numbers. Instead, users are shown a percentage change in visit volume for location types – for instance, a 56% decline in mobility trends for Massachusetts parks from the February 16 reporting baseline to the most recent data collection date of March 29
Facebook has rolled out three maps through its Data for Good program aimed at tracking the potential spread of COVID-19. The company will share the maps, which are based off aggregated Facebook data, with research and public health organizations. The first map is a co-location maps , used to determine the probability that Facebook users will come into contact with each other. The second shows whether people are staying at home on a county-by-county level, while the third is focused on insights around Facebook connections, such as Facebook Friends, across geographic lines.
Innovative platforms for uninterrupted education
Education industry has also been affected adversely in the current global scenario. But the sector has accepted the challenge, leveraging the fact of being in digital era. The current situation has led to the closing down of schools, universities, institutions following the spread of the Covid-19. This has further affected the students and aspirants preparing for their future. But as the educationists’ believe that learning should not stop, hence physical education has moved to the virtual world. While most of the schools and universities across India and globe are offering online classes, on the other hand there are education-technology platforms for offering uninterrupted online education.
Online education portals, virtual classrooms, e-learning applications had already became an inevitable part of imparting education .Amidst this pandemic outbreak ,when lockdown is prevailing across the nations, online education is making a way ahead removing all hindrances in learning. Approximately 66% adults , according to a Pearson’s study are liking online education, as 91% of students are unable to go to school across globe, importance of e-education has became inevitable.
Some free government Portals for courses and E-Learning are –
- ELIS-Portal– This portal is available at “free.aicte-india.org”. AICTE has started this free portal. This is a sort of ELIS (Enhancement in Learning with Improvement in skills) portal. This provides various free courses like machine learning, Programming, Digital Marketing. AICTE has tied up with 18 online education companies, which are providing around 26 courses.
- DIKSHA – This portal is for teachers and all school students. It is available in form of app or at “diksha.gov.in” .This has learning material for students and teachers as well .A Collection of approximately 80,000 e-books is made available for 12th class only, which have been prepared by CBSE,NCERT,SEB’s. Books are available in 7 languages (English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu) with the aim of removing hindrance in learning of students, in absence of availability of physical classrooms.
- NROER – It is available at “ nroer.gov.in” . It can be used by students of school, colleges. Apart from those it can be beneficial for employed ones too. It is “National repository of open educational resources”. Facilities are available here in form of e-library, e-books, e-courses, repositories. The portal has more than 3000 documents , more than 1300 sessions, approximately 1600 audios and more than 6100 videos , which sums up to more than 14000 files in different formats. Classrooms sessions can also be attended by enrolling and online test can also be given.
Virtual assistants and Chat bots
Various chat bots are available today as covid trackers, Risk assessment and FAQ’s related to it. Chat Bot are artificial conversational agent which is enough intelligent to initiate and simulate human like conversation. The chatbots are designed as bots that analyze the content typed by the user and relate it to database that contains possible answer.
- MyGov Corona Helpdesk Chatbot – It is available on WhatsApp and can be accessed simply by messaging the cell phone number 9013151515. You can also access the chatbot The chatbot was created by Reliance Jio-backed Haptik Technologies. This chatbot is really helpful in getting COVID 19 information in such a really easy way of communication. You can get each and every information related to this virus such as its symptoms, and how it is transmitted; preventive measures that can be taken as a safeguard against the virus; health & travel advisories; and official government helplines for further information/assistance. Apart from this, you can also find links to additional information here in order to know more about this disease. Haptik decided to implement this MyGov corona Helpdesk on Whatsapp platform because as everybody knows WhatsApp is one of the most highly used platforms of sharing information and communication with each other. So, this is understood that implementing chatbot to this platform is one of the most accurate ways to reach and inform numbers of citizens.
- Cobot-19 Chatbot – Just like My GovCorona helpdesk, Goa developed a chatbot-Cobot-19–in collaboration with healthcare startup Portea Medical and Bengaluru-based automation firm Verloop. This chatbot is capable of answering queries on COVID-19 in languages such as English and Konkani, with Hindi support in the works. Chatbot like cobot-19 are based on machine learning (ML). Cobot-19 is a very basic kind of chatbot as, like other chatbot which we have seen in ecommerce platforms, it is not that much sophisticated. It is simply used to ask questions and it has a fixed pattern of some answers. If it seems impossible for it to answer the question, then it will collect the questions and take them to the doctors from Portea Medical. After that, the chatbot is trained for those questions to respond if those are asked again.
- Microsoft Azure – Microsoft’s Azure cognitive services are really beneficial for large companies and healthcare organizations in order to build enterprise-grade bots that can speak, listen, and understand people. In fact, there are various companies that have already started making use of this technology in the initial phase of COVID 19. They are focusing to make people aware of the symptoms of corona virus and screen patients virtually before inviting them to come for in-person evaluations.
Thus Chat Bot are evolving as strong AI catalyst with human touch to help in apprehending collective efforts to fight against Covid 19.
Online essential supply–
To get items of daily needs, during lockdown people are relying on stores who are taking online orders of medicines, grocery, vegetable, milk and other essentials and home-delivering them, and thus maintaining demand-supply chain at local levels ,which in turn is helping in purpose of social distancing getting sufficed.
Thus, amidst this rampant pandemic outbreak where social distancing has became an inevitable and unavoidable, prima-facie step to fight this outbreak, technology and technological innovation are playing an important role in getting the world through in unavoidable facets of life at the same time facilitating the essential requirements of individuals, firms, and corporate and at the same time maintaining social distancing pedagogy .