Remote-controlled robots for virtual communication between medical personnel and Covid-19 patients through wireless Internet connectivity? Telepresence devices that automatically answer calls? Disinfection chambers? Tracking system on health facilities’ medical resources? Mobile app and a Web portal that serve as platform for information on relief packs and cash assistance distribution?
Yes, they are among the new technologies—among many others—developed by Filipino researchers being deployed by the Department of Science and Technology’s agencies Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) with their respective partner academic institutions private firms to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The new technologies provide frontliners better ways to deal with the pandemic, and help save more lives in the country.
GO-CLEAN Disinfection Chamber
Created by Usher Technologies Inc., a DOST-PCIEERD and Mapua University spin-off company, the GO-CLEAN Disinfection Chamber is a mobile unit that sanitizes the body of a person entering the enclosure.
Proper protocols are designed in order to ensure the protection of sensitive areas, such as the eyes, nose and mouth, from possible irritation brought about by the disinfectant mist.
It can be installed at the entrance of hospitals and other establishments, and it provides sanitation through the misting of electrolyzed saline solution, or Anolyte, that takes up only to 5 seconds to 10 seconds per person.
Anolyte is a disinfectant that is lethal to bacteria and viruses but is very safe for people and the environment. It has been well known to scientists since the early 1900s and is produced through a process of electrolysis using only brine solution and tap water.
The key component produced is hypochlorous acid (HOCl), which occurs naturally in the human body. White blood cells actually produce minute quantities of HOCl when fighting off infections.
The unit comes in single and dual chamber variants. The wet chamber for disinfectant fog and misting, may include a thermal scanner, automatic alcohol dispenser, rack for disinfecting materials.
Further development will include breathing pattern determination, and coughing detection system.
The biggest advantage of GO-CLEAN will be its Hoclomac system that will allow the chamber to produce its own disinfection solution. This will be the first and one of a kind in the world.
Usher Technologies has already deployed a total of 11 GO-CLEAN units at the following locations: four units in Quezon City; one in Camp Crame; one at the Development Bank of the Philippines (Makati); one at the Lung Center of the Philippines; one in Camp Aguinaldo; two in Santiago City; and one at the DOST Science Heritage Building.
The group can currently produce around four to five units of their GO-CLEAN system per week.
In partnership with University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, the Tracing for Allocation of Medical Supplies (TrAMS+) is an online geographic system developed for tracking information regarding health facilities’ medical resources.
This system relies on crowdsourced and volunteered information that may be used by government agencies, donors and other interested parties as a tool for effective response in the distribution of the much-needed medical resources.
The project team will regularly update its database and display the daily inventory of hospitals, improvement of web site features, design of mobile app, among others.
The Logistic Indoor Service Assistant Telepresence Robot (Lisa Robot), developed by Asst. Prof. Anthony James C. Bautista, PME, PhD, from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), is a remote-controlled wheeled device that offers virtual communication between medical personnel and Covid-19 patients by means of a computer, tablet or smartphone with wireless Internet connectivity.
It also has a box that holds the medicines for patients.
Lisa robot has three levels of automation: Level 1 is the most basic automation where the medical personnel can control the Lisa robot through a handheld transmitter sending commands to a receiver; Level 2 automation allows the robot to be controlled over a WiFi anytime, anywhere; and Level 3 automation is based on Simultaneous Localization and Mapping wherein the robot makes a map of the hospital and navigates through obstacles using 2D Light Detection and Ranging sensor.
While Levels 2 and 3 automation will be implemented after the Covid-19 pandemic due to limited resources brought by the recent enhanced community quarantine, Level 1 automation is low-cost, easy to build using readily available materials, and can be controlled by an operator at 5 meters to 10 meters away.
The first model has received positive feedback from Dr. Emilito Santos of Pasig Doctors Medical Center and Dr. Marcellus Francis Ramirez of UST Hospital who tested the unit on April 6.
While the production of one unit usually takes four to five days, the project targets to produce at least four units of Level 1 automation for its beneficiaries including UST Hospital, Pasig Doctors Medical Center, Marikina Valley Medical Center, and Binangonan Lake View Hospital.
The Project Resource Allocation Management, Distribution and Monitoring (Ramdam) system, developed by Geographic Innovations for Development Solutions Inc. in partnership with DOST, is an initiative composed of a mobile app and a web portal that could serve as a platform for residents and local government units (LGUs) to share accurate information regarding relief packs and cash assistance distribution.
Project Ramdam aims to provide efficient data management and monitoring for the LGUs, and feedback and request mechanism for the residents.
The team field tested this innovation in some barangays of Los Baños, Laguna, and is currently preparing the pilot testing results for possible nationwide implementation.
Through another computerized system, health-care workers at the UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) can connect with their patients without physically being present in Covid-19 wards.
The telepresence devices “limit exposure, conserve personal protective equipment [PPE] and provide clear communication with a friendly face.”
The devices not only help nurses and doctors. Anxious and lonely patients, who are isolated from their families and moral support system, can also remotely communicate with their loved ones in their fight to survive the disease.
The technology involves “computers programmed to automatically answer calls from authorized accounts using available teleconferencing and remote-control applications, thus, minimizing contamination and allowing effortless access even by patients with no technological know-how,” according to Dr. Edward Wang.
They were developed by the UP Manila-College of Medicine Surgical Innovation and Biotechnology Laboratory (UPM-CM Sibol) Covid Task Force led by Wang. Sibol is composed of collaborating clinicians from UP Manila, and engineers, scientists and artists from UP Diliman.
The device is the first Sibol product deployed by the team at UP-PGH after two weeks of collaboration.
“Inspired by triage booths initially set-up to screen ambulatory patients, the team, led by Dr. Nathaniel Orillaza Jr. [Orthopedics], Dr. Pros Naval [Computer Science] and Dr. Luis Sison and Dr. Roel Ocampo [Electronics and Electrical Engineering Institute] assembled devices which allowed health-care workers to connect to patients remotely,” Wang said.
The technology was funded by the DOST-PCHRD.
“Covid-19 is projected to require a massive inventory of medical supplies. This was the impetus for us to convene the Sibol Covid Task Force,” Wang said.
The task force, recently formed to support the fight against coronavirus pandemic, is composed of three teams working on Disinfection, PPE and Telemonitoring.
Sibol, a Filipino term for germination, is an existing program of DOST-PCHRD, which originally aims to “use locally sourced materials and technology to produce much needed surgical and medical devices in the country.”
Materials used for initial deployment were sponsored by Xavier School Class of 1975, while wooden stands were designed, manufactured and subsidized by Projektzulu Co.
Innovative products for frontliners
DOST Undersecretary Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara, for Research and Development, expressed gratitude to Filipino researchers who worked tirelessly in coming up with needed solutions and moving with top speed.
“Getting innovative products, processes and services in the hands of those at the forefront in the Covid-19 response is our goal as we make change happen through research and development,” she said.
DOST PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit is optimistic and extremely proud about the contributions of Filipino innovators who came up with creative ways to help the country’s frontliners.
“We are facing a challenge like never before and we need to work together. Our goal is to take down barriers and bring the best ideas to combat the virus through science, technology and innovations. The Council, through its partner industries, will persistently provide the same incredible support and ensure the safety of all Filipinos,” he said. S&T Media Service