Designers, engineers and programmers have heard the klaxon call. The last few weeks have seen a wave of ingenuity unleashed, with both garden-shed tinkerers and high-tech manufacturers scrambling to develop things that will combat the spread of Covid-19.
Many of their innovations raise as many questions as they answer, though. Could 3D printing now finally come into its own, with access to open-source, downloadable designs for medical parts? If so, will intellectual property infringements be waived, or will altruistic hackt ivists still face costly lawsuits ? Could mobile phone tracking map the spread of infection like never before, keeping people away from virus hotspots? If so, might governments use the pandemic as an excuse to ramp up surveillance measures post-crisis?
From 3D-printed respirator valves to UV-sanitising robots, here are 10 inventions that the battle against coronavirus has spawned so far. Anti-virus snood
The Virustatic Shield snood. Photograph: Virustatic Shield Biochemists at Manchester University have developed a snood with “germ trap” technology . The result of a 10-year project with biotech firm Virustatic, the snood has now been hurried into production. Its creators say the fabric coating has a similar formation to the carbohydrate structures on the surfaces of the cells that cover the oesophagus. They created the technology by attaching glycoproteins to carbon cloth, then to other cheaper materials such as cotton.
Their tests have shown that it traps 96% of airborne viruses. According to inventor Paul Hope, the snood is more breathable and flexible than a conventional mask, meaning patients can also wear them. “The biggest spreader of viruses, the people you are treating, can’t wear existing masks,” he says, “because […]