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Mumbai Teen Designs 'Cool' PPE Kit For COVID Warriors After Seeing Doctor Mom's Struggle

A second-year student of KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai has developed a belt-like wearable ventilation system for PPE kits for COVID warriors.



As the country continues to grapple with the second wave of COVID-19, with COVID warriors at the forefront, in a bid to provide some relief, Nihaal Singh Adarsh, a second-year student of KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai has developed a belt-like wearable ventilation system for PPE kits. He named it Cov-Tech Ventilation System which comes with a lithium-ion battery that lasts for 6 to 8 hours.

"Cov-Tech Ventilation System is like you are sitting under the fan even while you are inside the PPE suit. It takes the surrounding air, filters it, and pushes it into the PPE suit. Normally, due to lack of ventilation, it is hot and humid within the PPE suit; our solution offers a way out of this uncomfortable experience, by creating a steady airflow inside," Adarsh explained.

Doctor mother's struggle led him to design the PPE kit

Adarsh's mother Poonam Kaur, who happens to be a doctor treating COVID-19 patients at her clinic in Pune, every day after returning home, would narrate the difficulty faced by doctors and nurses, who wear PPE suits and get themselves drenched in sweat. This led Adarsh to invent something innovative.

He started working on the prototype and developed the first model in 20 days. He got support from Somaiya Vidyavihar University's RIIDL (Research Innovation Incubation Design Laboratory), the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and after more than six months of hard work, the initial prototype emerged. It was neck-mounted, sucking in air through U-shaped air inlets, and had pillow-like structures which could be worn around the neck.

Adarsh then gave it to Dr. Vinayak Mane of Pune for testing. "We wanted this prototype to be tested by some unbiased doctors and hence approached Dr. Vinayak Mane. He pointed out that wearing it around the neck will be a big discomfort for doctors and health care workers, due to the constant sound and vibration the device emitted. So, we discarded the prototype and started working on further designs," Adarsh said.

This aspiration for perfection led to the development of around 20 developmental prototypes and 11 ergonomic prototypes till the final product emerged. For this, he got help from Gaurang Shetty, Chief Innovation Catalyst at RIIDL and CEO of Dassault Systems, Pune.

The final design of the PPE kit 

The final design of the product allows it to be worn around the waist, just like a belt. It can be attached with the conventional PPE kits. This design serves two purposes -- first, keeps the health workers well-ventilated, while preventing bodily discomfort, and second, keeps them safe from various fungal infections.

"Since the ventilator is worn close to the body, high-quality components have been used and safety protection measures have also been taken care of. When I told my mom that I am going to file a patent for this product, she was very happy. Being a General Physician, my mother uses it whenever she goes out for work," Adarsh said.

He revealed that his initial ambitions did not extend beyond giving a solution to his mother's pain. "I never thought of going commercial initially. I thought of making it only on a small scale and giving it to the doctors I personally know. But later on, when we made it feasible, I realized that the problem is such a massive one, something our healthcare workers face on a daily basis. That is when we thought of making a commercial plan so that it is available for everyone in need," he said.

The final product that has come is being used in Pune's Sai Sneh hospital and Lotus Multi-Specialty Hospital.  Besides, he has created a start-up called Watt Technovations, thanks to a grant of ₹ 10,00,000 for prototype development and product innovation by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The startup plans to scale up its production in May-June 2021. The product costs ₹ 5,499 per piece and is way cheaper than the competitive products that cost around ₹ one lakh. 

It is pertinent to mention here that the first batch of the product is already out, with around 30-40 units which will be delivered as trial units to doctors/NGOs across the country. The next batch of around 100 units is also under production.

(With Inputs from ANI)

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