As the world is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic without a clue when the crisis will wither away, innovation and technology play a vital role in alleviating the impacts. Innovation and technology not only bring convenience to everyday life but also are an efficient tool to support medical professionals and the overall healthcare sector.
The research and development on technology that aids medical professionals becomes extremely crucial, to protect the frontlines and reduce their risks, particularly in light of shortages of medical supplies/devices and exorbitant prices due to huge demands.
AI and Robotics Ventures Company Limited (ARV), a new business unit of PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), thus aspires to invent Thai-made tools, to support Thailand’s fight against the disease. Together with partners, ARV has brainstormed ideas and expertise for the creation of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics innovations that support medical professionals and enhance safety measures.
The mission started with 3-in-1 negative pressure patient transport capsule. Developed jointly with PTTEP, the capsule generates negative pressure, removes particles from the air, and disinfect itself.
It is equipped with a negative air pressure generator box which keeps the pressure of air inflow lower than outside pressure. Preventing the air from flowing out and hence, the capsule blocks the spread of disease. The box is equipped with high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA Filter) that remove 99.99% of particles whose diameter is as small as 0.3 micrometer or 100 times smaller than a human hair. Meanwhile, the installed UV-C light bulb acts as a disinfectant. It ensures air flowing out of the capsule contains no disease, hence reducing risks associated with a patient’s transfer.
The same set of knowledge was applied with the creation of negative pressure generator. Equipped with this generator, medical tool boxes are safe for use, adding convenience to medical professionals. The generator can be powered by a battery, electric sources or solar cells, making it suitable for remote areas. PTTEP delivered the negative pressure capsules and boxes to Vajira Hospital for further distribution to hospitals across the country. Negative pressure transport beds and wheelchairs were also donated to Siriraj Hospital.
IoT Cold Chain is another innovation in this regard. It is a set of tools that monitor temperature and control the cold chain, which helps maintain the efficiency of COVID-19 vaccine storage. The innovation applies wireless seismic survey, a technology that the petroleum exploration uses to acquire the geological structure of rock layers. For the IoT Cold Chain, vibration sensors are replaced with temperature sensors. The device is small. Installed with vaccine storage units, it ensures the temperature stays at the prescribed range and reports real-time data to control monitors. In case of irregularities, concerned personnel will be alerted for prompt response while the data will be sent to the central control center that is linked with all devices in use in different parts of the country. The device plays an important role in the storage of sensitive vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines. Developed by ARV, the devices were handed to the Ministry of Public Health.
CARA Robot was developed to assist medical personnel in delivering medical and food supplies within hospitals and isolation venues. With a remote controller, the device can be operated from the distance up to 100 meters, which reduce risks in contracting the disease from patients. Through an installed tablet, it also serves as a communication channel for patients and medical professionals. CARA is currently delivering medical and food supplies at PTT Group’s End-to-End field hospital and other hospitals.
Xterlizer, developed by ARV, can inactivate viruses, bacteria and fungi with UV-C light. In just 5 minutes, it can disinfect an area of 25 sqm. It is mobile and wireless, able to operate and avoid obstacles on its own. With an infrared motion sensor, the disinfectant machine will immediately stop emitting the UV-C light when detecting any motion, to ensure safety.
These innovations were created by Thai companies following the outbreak. They have been efficiently deployed at hospitals and infirmaries, bringing the supports needed for the fight against this global crisis.