Rethinking how we protect ourselves against the novel coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a global humanitarian and economic crisis of an unimaginable scale, which we are still struggling to find ways to manage and contain. Vaccines are the best long term solution, but they are still a faraway hope. To date, the best solutions we have are social distancing and mask wearing. But even without the huge economic impact and politicization, both social distancing and masks have their challenges. Additionally, as a significant portion of the global population provides or supports essential services, including healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, and utility workers, they have already resumed working or will need to get back to work soon in order for our world to function. Every time they go to work, they unwillingly risk their own health and the health of others.
The obvious solution to this is to provide personal medical equipment to all workers that may be exposed to the virus. However, the types of personal medical equipment that we have developed at the moment all face supply chain shortages and have their own respective issues. For instance, most surgical masks and shields are not certified as respiratory protective devices. Additionally, because they are disposable, the virus becomes a risk to anyone who comes in contact with the trash. N95 respirators, on the other hand are frequently used incorrectly, causing them to lose their effectiveness. Powered air purifying respirators, or PAPR, are more effective than the two aforementioned options but are prohibitively expensive with a single unit costing up to $2,000 USD.
UVisor is a reusable positive air pressure helmet that utilizes a small fan unit and an active UV light, safely contained in a UV chamber, to circulate and sterilize the air surrounding its wearer. To clarify, this device is not a medical device and will not be used by medical personnel. Instead, the team envisions it to be used by facilities that typically have high densities of people such as schools, senior care centers, prisons and warehouses. The defining characteristics of UVisor are:
- Easy to use and can be worn up to eight hours a day.
- Isolates the head, especially the eyes, nose and mouth, from the environment.
- 99%+ effective against aerosols.
- Reusability of at least a hundred times.
- Globally manufacturable at an affordable price of $100 USD or less.
The device is battery powered and can be charged through a standard USB cable. To decontaminate the helmet, one would just need to properly wipe it down with conventional disinfectant. Additionally, the design of UVisor will accommodate the wearing of glasses.
In comparison to PAPR, the closest device currently on the market, UVisor is far less expensive, has a lower power requirement, better audibility, and does not carry a filter that needs to be constantly replaced. However, UVisor does have the disadvantage of not being able to be used in situations where filtration is required, as it can only filter large particulate matter. Furthermore, it is more fragile than standard PAPR devices and its UV light can be harmful if not properly contained in its chamber.
To optimize the device, the team partnered with Optical, Fluid, and UV experts from Ansys, an engineering simulation software developer. Ansys did a deep dive with the developers of the UVisor and helped simulate and further optimize the UV Chamber design. Currently, the team is prototyping the UV Chamber, as well as the headgear design. They plan on testing the efficacy of the UV Chamber against a surrogate virus at Sandia National Laboratories in the United States. They are also working with Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology to improve their designs.
Design iterations for the UV chamber of UVisor.
How You Can Help
Want to volunteer?
As Project UVisor progresses, they have been seeking more volunteers. They are specifically looking for:
- Fundraising and Hackathon Leads
- Partnerships (Manufacturers, Businesses etc.) Leads
- Microbiology/ Virology Experts
- Market Research Leads
- Online Content Creators
- Public Relation Leads who can spread the word of our device to manufacturers globally who may be interested in a project like this
If you are interested, or have any any question, about these volunteer opportunities, please inquire via the #project-ppe-ucpd channel on the Helpful Engineering Slack, or email [email protected]
Want to learn more?
Visit the Helpful Devices Project Workbook here.
The designs in this article are presented As-Is. The goal is to present designs that can foster further discussion and be utilized in countries that permit this product. These are not finalized designs and do not represent certification from any country. You accept responsibility and release Helpful Engineering from liability for the manufacture or use of this product. This design was created in response to the announcement on March 10, 2020, from the HHS. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who issued a declaration pursuant to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.
Link to Prep act. :https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/legal/prepact/Pages/default.aspx
ALL WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER, EXPRESS, IMPLIED AND STATUTORY, ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED. ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE HEREBY DISCLAIMED. THIS DEVICE (INCLUDING ANY ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS) IS PRESENTED ‘AS IS.’