Innovative Tech In Wake Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

By Christine Persaud

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, companies have been at a standstill, unable to work or doing what they can from home. Many innovators have been coming up with interesting technologies and products designed specifically because of COVID-19 or that simply fit right in with the “new normal.” Here are a few of the most interesting ones.

NIRA Skin NIRA Temp Wearable Smart Thermometer

In any other day and age, this might sound like a ridiculous idea. But nowadays as economies are slowly opening back up, social distancing rules are still in effect, and businesses are mandating that people get their temperature checked before entering certain facilities, this product might just have legs. It’s a wearable smart thermometer you place under your arm to get real-time readings of your temperature and alerts if it rises to a feverish level. It sticks on just like a bandage and syncs with the NIRA Temp app 24/7, just like a fitness tracker or smartwatch. It uses microchip technology similar to what the company uses in its Skincare Laser. It is FDA, HIPPA, DGPR, and CCPA, complaint (no word on Health Canada) to offer temperature readings that are accurate to within 0.1-degrees Celsius. It stays charged up for a full year and is water-resistant. Along with custom alerts that can be sent via SMS, text, or on-phone notification, the secure app provides a history of readings, a space for taking medical-related notes, and family sharing. It takes measurements regularly throughout the day and works with an algorithm that can predict if your health is of a concern, based on your body temperature. With an opt-in feature, you can share personal readings with family members, companies, or others of your choosing. Large companies can set it up to access group data through a cloud-based API and web-based organizational dashboard to be proactive should they notice anyone with a fever, as soon as it comes on. Companies that pre-order receive a one-month starter supply of bandages and apps along with a one-year subscription to the software. The bandages are also available for individual purchase, and would be useful for the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, or those who simply want to keep an eye on their health before going out and about and mixing with others. But for those who work in factories, medical facilities, construction, or other businesses where social distancing is next to impossible, this device could become a literal lifesaver. It isn’t a foolproof way to determine if you have COVID-19, of course. But for many, a rising fever is the first sign. So it can alert you to immediate warning signs and keep people home should they detect anything or prompt them to go get tested. It is scheduled to ship in volume in early August. 

Nano Attack and G2K Liquid Glass Shield

Distributed by CrystalTech Nano 2.0, this protective solution is designed to not only clean, sanitize, and rid both hard and soft surfaces of germs and bacteria, it also leaves a long-lasting nano protective layer that keeps surfaces protected for anywhere from three to seven days, destroying microbes on contact. The solution is fully organic, biodegradable, and water-based, and does not contain any harmful chemicals, fumes, or vapours. It’s also non-flammable and non-toxic. Simply spray it onto a hard surface, let it sit for a minute, then wipe it clean with a microfibre cloth, or apply it to a soft surface and let it dry naturally. It can be used to clean frequently used surfaces in a retail or business environment, hotel or airplane, as well as personal items like keyboards, computers, sponges, cars, carpets, smartphones, rugs, door handles, and even masks.

There are two versions: Nano Attack, which comes in a spray bottle for consumer use and G2K, a large container for commercial use that can be fogged into a room like a warehouse, production area, or car, or even added to a mop bucket to sanitize and protect floors. It does not leach, migrate, or dissolve into treated surfaces and is safe to use on many products. 

Allterco Robotics Shelly Air Smart Air Purifier

This device wasn’t necessarily developed just because of COVID-19, but it has definitely sparked interest because of it. Designed by the Bulgarian IoT company, the smart purifier can reportedly combat different viruses using its powerful UV-C LEDs. It can eliminated a reported 95% of the viruses and bacteria in the air and improve air quality. Its chemical-free air purification solution damages the DNA of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, preventing them from multiplying and causing disease. It is made of 98% aluminum and is designed for professional use in areas like public transit, food warehouses, offices, and hospitals. It can be controlled directly from any mobile device and uses two air purifying technologies: filter for particles sized 0.3 μm and UV-C LED light that kills viruses and bacteria. 

While studies have shown that UV-C LEDs effectively eliminate almost all viruses and bacteria, says Allterco, the use of such devices has been considered dangerous because UV-C LEDs can cause skin cancer and the devices that emit them generate ozone, which in small quantities helps with disinfecting but is poisonous in larger quantities. Shelly AIR, however, is 100% safe for indoor use. The device uses LED technology and the UV-C LEDs are created in a specially designed aluminum reactor that prevents them from reaching people’s skin or eyes. At the same time, no ozone is created. It can be safely used in any indoor space without limitations. Wi-Fi technology means you can control it from a smartphone using the Shelly Cloud app, where customers can get data for the temperature of the place where the device is installed. Create custom schedules for Shelly AIR and set it to turn on or turn off automatically. Shelly AIR is compatible with Android and iOS, as well as with the popular voice control assistants Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Additionally, Allterco Robotics is planning to present a solution for safe disinfection of various objects and products. It will be possible to install it in a room or a warehouse, and the items placed inside will be disinfected within minutes. Technology like this has long been used in various hospitals, while in China, such a solution is being used in public transport. However, in compliance with safety measures, every household will be able to use the device that Allterco Robotics will offer.


Weiser Door Hardware With Microban Antimicrobial Product Protection

Again, this product innovation might simply be the result of good timing (or clever marketing) as Weiser already has a line of door hardware that features Microban SilverShield technology. Through an expanded partnership with the company, Weiser is launching door hardware with Microban antimicrobial product protection in select products, designed to help inhibit the growth of bacteria on frequently touched door hardware surfaces in the home. Weiser, which has been the exclusive residential lock partner of Microban for the past four years, first announced these products at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) 2016. Since then, the company says the line has received great feedback from architects, designers, builders, and homeowners. Weiser is now working on expanding the Microban partnership into keyless entry and smart lock lines, with plans to roll out new products later this year.

Weiser products with Microban technology have a unique coating innovation that will last for the lifetime of the hardware finish, says the company. Microban product protection works continuously to keep the door handle cleaner, fighting against the growth of bacteria that would normally double in number every 20 minutes. The finish will also enhance hardware durability to maintain the look and quality of the hardware throughout the products’ lifetime.

Microban “silver-glass” technology is incorporated during manufacturing process and permanently binds the silver ions to the coating. Treated hardware continuously inhibits the growth of bacteria on the surface creating a cleaner product. The products also meet BHMA standards and extend the lifetime of the product.

Microban product protection is currently available on select Weiser products, including knobs, levers and a deadbolt and finishes.

Moen Smart Faucet

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Showcased at CES 2020, a few months before social distancing protocols were put into place and COVID-19 was officially labeled a pandemic, was Moen’s Smart Faucet, which is probably getting a lot more attention now because of the virus. At the heart of the faucet is its ability to respond to voice controls and waving hand movements as well as a smartphone app. You can start and stop water and even set the temperature, all using your voice, without ever having to touch the knobs. It works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to set personal presets you can call up with a single command, like cold water for rinsing fruits and vegetables or hot water for soaking pots and pans; or set metered dispensing so you can fill a large pot to boil potatoes and tend to other tasks without worrying that it will run over. Homeowners can also monitor their water usage through the app. The faucet might be getting lots of attention to public places as well where social distancing will be tough to enforce once the economy re-opens, like in restaurants and stadiums.

BlueParrott B450-XT Wireless Headset

BlueParrott’s new B450-XT noise-cancelling Bluetooth headset has been designed to be more comfortable to wear, offer more flexible charging via USB-C, and allows for better calls in high-noise environments. And it might be the ideal solution for those who don’t want to place a smartphone to their ear to answer calls after having touched other surfaces. It could also work for people working from home who have to be on calls throughout the day but need to block out distracting ambient noise, like the kids milling about, the neighbour mowing his lawn, or the garbage truck outside.

The B450-XT is one of BlueParrott’s most popular headsets to date and the next generation model addresses two critical features for users: comfort and durability. They deliver improved comfort through the padded headband and large, cushioned earcups for all-day use. The headset is even more durable with an IP54-rating to protect against dust and moisture, and now comes with USB-C charging to streamline charging across devices. 

The new headset also enables easy firmware updates on the go using the BlueParrott app and features Bluetooth 5.0 for better connectivity across devices.

Building on the success of the original B450-XT, the headset also has standard features like noise cancellation that blocks out 96% of background noise and up to 24 hours of talk time. With BlueParrott’s VoiceControl, users can answer or reject calls with just their voice, providing a hands-free experience. Users can also customize the headset using the exclusive Parrott Button for one-touch access to favorite features and applications.  

The B450-XT offers up to 24 hours of talk time and operates within a wireless range of up to 300 feet. It has large, easy-to-press buttons.

It is available for pre-order for $230 and will be available for purchase at major retailers and travel centers beginning June 1.

FluidStance Balance Boards

One of the issues people face working from home is not getting enough activity. We can’t go to the gym, find ourselves eating more and probably drinking more, too! While these balance boards might not motivate you to get more exercise every day, they can reportedly help strengthen and stabilize your body, says the company, soothe stiff joints, burn calories, and keep you feeling more alert. There are three decks: the Original, Level, and Plane, which differ in materials and manufacturing process, but they all accomplish the same thing. The Level, which sells for US$249, is made of a die-cast, military-grade aluminum base with a powder-coat finish that’s put on using a near-zero-emission method. The geometric base is topped with a half inch of either maple or bamboo, depending on your preference.

Allmade Allmask Eco-friendly Facemasks 

Technically, there aren’t high-tech products. But who can resist the story of a new and potentially innovative face mask during a pandemic? This one from the eco-friendly T-shirt company is made from organic cotton and recycled plastic, and materials with antimicrobial properties. They are reusable and produced with the same Allmade fabric as the company’s T-shirts, which includes a blend of 50% Repreve polyester made from recycled plastic, 25% organic cotton grown in the U.S., and 25% TENCEL Modal, which has antimicrobial properties. They are made in California in a government-approved facility. The seam placement on the mask allows it to fit securely and comfortably on the face and covers the cheeks. It features an adjustable metal piece on the bridge of the nose that provides an accurate fit and eliminates the issue of foggy glasses. The mask has comfortable elastic head straps, comes in a variety of colours, and is machine washable. In the last 30 days, over a hundred thousand Allmasks have been purchased or donated to countries all over the world, says the company. For every mask sold, Allmade will donate one medical mask to a healthcare facility in need. US$12 each or US$30 for a three-pack, plus shipping. Bulk discounts apply for orders of 100 masks or more.

Telus Critter Masks

For a limited time, while supplies last, Telus is selling masks featuring cute critters. They come in youth and adult sizes and packs of three for $35 each for kids, $45 each for adults. They are reusable, dual-layered, and made from 100% recycled polyester on the outside and 100% organic cotton on the inside, adhering to the guidelines set by the Telus Medical Advisory Council. All proceeds will go to the Telus Future Foundation (TFFF) supporting COVID-19 relief efforts across Canada. The masks are available for purchase from the Telus Website as well as in select Telus retail stores. 

Shopify Tap & Chip Card Reader

To help more retailers get on board with contactless payments as the retail sector begins to slowly re-open, Shopify is offering its Tap & Chip Card Reader for free to about 3,000 independent Toronto businesses to help them get their online stores built and up and running. The Reader can be used with contactless payments in stores as well as curbside pickup and delivery. 

Door Grabber

Since the virus hit, there has been plenty of attention on simple yet genius gadgets that you can use to open doors in public places without actually using your hand. The little grabbers essentially wrap around your finger while a hook wraps around the door handle and you pull to open it. Your fingers and hands never touch the door. Of course the device just touched the door and if there was some kind of virus on the surface, it might have transferred to this doo-hickey that you pop back into your bag, purse, or pocket. But hey, at least it isn’t on your hands! And you can wipe it down as soon as you get to a bathroom. There are plenty of them but this one from Peel is designed to hook onto your keychain so it’s always with you.

GoSun Portable Solar-Powered Water Purifier And Sanitation System

This product is still running a pre-order campaign on Indiegogo, but it has promise. The company known for its solar-powered grills and other similar outdoor products is offering this device, which is small enough to fit into a backpack and uses solar energy to filter 99.99% of pathogens from water. It can function as a portable handwashing station, warm shower, source of clean drinking water, and more. With upgrades, it can also be converted to a full-on portable shower complete with clean, hot water. The all-in-one unit includes a faucet, pump, filter, powerbank, and solar panels. It can also be powered by a USB outlet. GoSun designers tested the products recently by setting up a handwashing station on the street corner outside a local hardware store. As a plus, for each GoSun Flow purchase, the company will ensure that two trees are planted through the company’s partnership with Trees for the Future. So far, GoSun says it has helped plant over 40,000 trees. Starting price is US$149.

Google Nest Aware

Google’s Nest Aware subscription service is officially rolling out in Canada, allowing Canadians to tap into their Google Nest devices both while away as well as at home. This can be useful to check on packages that might be dropped off at your doorstep or to see who’s outside so you can still safely practice social distancing. The subscription is $8/mo. or $80 if you pay for a year upfront and it comes with 30 days of event video history. Get 24/7 video history with the Plus option that affords 60 days of event video history and 10 days of 24/7 video history for double the price. The service sees event clips recorded as soon as motion or sound is detected. If something happens, you’ll receive an alert so you can know exactly when the mailman has arrived, the Amazon package was delivered, or someone has come to your door or stepped foot on your property unauthorized. You can also get continuous recording via an outdoor camera throughout the night with the Plus subscription. Use Duo video calling to stay in touch with loved ones and see them with Nest Aware as well as long as they invite you as a home member and enable the display’s speaker. You can also receive notifications if something requires your attention at your elderly parents’ or grandparent’s homes. Those who already have a Nest Aware subscription can upgrade to the new version through the Google Store, but this requires that you migrate to a Google account if you have not done so yet. Package detection will also be rolling out globally wherever Nest Hello devices are sold. The Nest Hub now sells for $100 and the Nest Cam Indoor for $180.

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