COVID-19 Tech Bits

Tech fights COVID-19 with AI, 3D printing, supercomputers, simulation & wearables


Tech companies, consortiums and universities are jumping in to help fight COVID-19, deploying everything from massive computing capabilities to developing new technologies that can protect medical workers and first responders.

Nearly all of these have ramped up over the past several weeks, as the tech world begins to take on a global challenge to combat the deadly virus.

Compute resources
The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium  is a joint effort involving private industry, academia and government, spearheaded by IBM, the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The goal is to leverage massive compute resources that can be used to develop treatments or create models for how the virus may impact different regions, and so far that includes more than 402 petaflops, 105,334 nodes, 3,539,044 CPU cores and 41,286 GPUs,  according to the consortium’s website. Researchers can submit COVID-19 related research proposals to the consortium via this online portal, which will then be reviewed for matching with computing resources from one of the partner institutions. A panel comprised of scientists and computing researchers will work with proposers to determine the public health benefit of the work, with a focus on projects that can ensure speedy results.

Johns Hopkins University provides a data analysis dashboard of the status of COVID-19 cases around the world, aggregating data from a number of sources including U.S. CDC, WHO, as well as other sources detailed here. Tableau re-engineered the Johns Hopkins data and published the output here in various formats and a visualization template.

IBM also is providing virus tracking and related stats via the weather channel.

An AI tool is being developed to predict which COVID patients will go on to develop severe respiratory disease. The tool uses predictive analytics applied to actual patient data and achieved a 70-80% accuracy rate in predicting severe cases. The work was led by NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, in partnership with Wenzhou Central Hospital and Cangnan People’s Hospital.

Baidu has developed a number of AI tools to contain and treat COVID-19, including an AI based, non-contact infrared sensor system currently being used to detect fevers in Qinghe Railway Station in Beijing. This and more of Baidu’s AI work is profiled here.

Google created a COVID-19 Public Dataset program to host publicly accessible datasets relevant to COVID-19. BIGQuery will provide queries of the date for free through 9/15/2020  for research and educational purposes.

Google DeepMind team is contributing with their latest version of AlphaFold system  “by releasing structure predictions of several under-studied proteins associated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

3D Printing
The 3D printing community has responded to COVID-19 with a variety of solutions. Copper3D has developed an open-source 3D-printed NanoHack printable face mask that can be printed in about two hours. The unique approach includes using antimicrobial materials including “nanocomposites developed by Copper3D, high quality PLA and TPU with a patented, scientifically validated and highly effective Nano-Copper based additive” according to the Copper3D website.

Source: Copper3D

Sunnyvale’s Maker Nexus volunteers are making 3D-printed COVID-19 face shields for healthcare workers.  “Currently we have about 300 people signed up that are active, at-home, shelter-in-place and volunteering to print for us,” said Nexus General Manager Eric Hess.

Penn State, meanwhile, has spearheaded a rapidly evolving initiative to design and scale-up solutions to guard health care workers against COVID-19 with a prototype of a 3D-printed face shield.

3D printing service company Materialise has designed a 3D printed door opener, making it possible to open doors without directly contact with door handles.

HP and its partners are using their 3D printing team, technology and manufacturing to deliver critical parts. “More than 1,000 3D printed parts have already been delivered to local hospitals. HP’s 3D R&D centers in Barcelona, Spain; Corvallis, Oregon; San Diego, California; and Vancouver, Washington are collaborating with partners around the world in a coordinated effort to increase production to meet the most urgent needs. Initial applications being validated and finalized for industrial production include face masks, face shields, mask adjusters, nasal swabs, hands-free door openers, and respirator parts. HP is also coordinating with government, health, and industry agencies in numerous countries to ensure a synchronized and effective approach”, according to the company.

A public Google Sheet was developed to gather worldwide 3D makers to provide services for components like oxygen valves. Submission forms are here. (Note, these are public documents, so share information at your own risk.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides FAQs on 3D printing of medical devices and accessories.

The NIH 3D Print Exchange provides models in formats that are readily compatible with 3D printers, and offers a unique set of tools to create and share 3D-printable models related to biomedical science.

MIT professors provide guidance on the use of 3D printing to make masks and other PPE (personal protective equipment) for individuals on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, noting there are notable risks that must be understood.

For serious COVID-19 cases, ventilators are desperately needed, but in very short supply. A number of initiatives are underway to address this acute global shortage.

Bloom Energy is refurbishing out-of-service ventilators in the US. Bloom transformed parts of its manufacturing facilities into ventilator refurbishment operations in the span of just a few days to help hospitals respond to COVID-19.

Medtronic announced it is publicly sharing the design specifications for its ventilator (the Puritan Bennett 560) to enable participants across industries to evaluate options for rapid ventilator manufacturing to help doctors and patients dealing with COVID-19. This decision is consistent with the recent FDA Guidance.

MIT has spearheaded an effort to design a low-cost open-source ventilator. MIT E-Vent works with volunteer doctors, engineers, computer scientists and others to design a device with about $100 worth of parts.

Anesthesiology residents at Massachusetts General Hospital founded the CoVent-19 Challenge, an online global contest to increase mechanical ventilation in hospital. According to the site, “The CoVent-19 Challenge is an open innovation 8-week Grand Challenge for engineers, innovators, designers, and makers.

The Scripps Research has designed DETECT (Digital Engagement & Tracking for Early Control & Treatment), a study that will monitor your heart rate and allow you to record symptoms like fever or coughing.

Oura is sponsoring research at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to study whether physiological data collected by the Oura ring, combined with responses to daily symptom surveys, can predict illness symptoms. The study aims to build an algorithm to help UCSF identify patterns of onset, progression, and recovery, for COVID-19.

ANSYS and partners Bert Blocken and Fabio Malizia at TUe & KU Leuven demonstrate the effectiveness of social distancing while exercising outside, revealing that more space is required to avoid droplets from the runner or cyclist in front of you.

Source: ANSYS & partners Bert Blocken and Fabio Malizia at TUe & KU Leuven


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