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With coronavirus still around, 'virus killers' hit the market

By Sohini Das & Vinay Umarji
September 07, 2020 12:02 IST
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A gamechanger for offices and factories, Shycocan, claims to be able to clear an area of 1000 square feet from coronavirus.

When Rajah Vijay Kumar had an appointment with his dentist recently, we carried his Shycocan as a precaution.

Cleared by regulators in the US and EU, Scalene Hypercharge Corona Canon or Shycocan is a plug & play small drum-like device with a special alloy which neutralises viruses in the atmosphere in a closed space.

 

Developed by Kumar's firm Organization de Scalene and now marketed by Eureka Forbes, Shycocan is one among many such innovative products, technologies and services that are either hitting or getting ready to hit the market with an aim of providing safety, hygiene and freedom from fear of infection among end users as the economy looks to open up further under Unlock 4.0.

Shycocan's alloy, when excited, releases protons of a specific wavelength which eject electrons from whichever surface they strike, a device developed by PerSapien Innovations can transform normal tap water into antiviral droplets.

Without the use of any bio-hazardous chemicals, these antiviral droplets, when dispersed in the air or any surface, can instantly kill viruses by playing with the physical properties of water.

Developed by people from startups and R&D departments at IITs to philanthropic organisations, these innovations have either been commercialised or are waiting for manufacturing partners to scale up production and hit the market.

A gamechanger for offices and factories in the country, the Shycocan, which can clear an area of 1000 square feet from coronaviruses, was discovered by accident.

Kumar's firm had developed a special alloy for a project in 2017 when they were facing a lot of issues with absenteeism during the flu season.

Around 2018 they came up with the idea to use the alloy to ward off flu viruses in an enclosed space (their office).

Since coronaviruses have spike-like proteins which they use to latch on to the living cells, the electrons from the Shycocan neutralise the virus, which Kumar says, has a positive charge.

As a result, an attenuated virus enters the human body.

Similarly, Airlens Minus Corona, is a device developed by PerSapien Innovations, which simply uses normal tap water to deal with viruses in the air or on a surface.

From small rooms in offices or other establishments to large public spaces like a mall's atrium, the device can be built to size, says Debayan Saha, co-founder and director, PerSapien Innovations.

According to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur and Stanford alumnus, the devices merely play with physical properties of water in such a way that it transforms it into antiviral droplets which are dispersed in the environment to kill viruses in the air or any surface.

Now recognised and approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 'Airlens Minus Corona' has been proved to be bio-safe, even as PerSapien has begun work on manufacturing and deployment.

"We would like to install this in as many schools as possible especially in containment areas.

"At least students should be able to come to facilities where they can access digital technology so that they don't remain out of the education system.

"Industries would also work smoothly with the devices as well as other establishments like offices and malls," said Saha.

Educational institutions like IIT Kharagpur and Guwahati have also developed products and systems that can be deployed or scaled up for the marketplace.

For instance, according to IIT Kharagpur director Virendra Tewari, the institute has been working in several areas including developing an artificial intelligence (AI) based system which can capture images of public places, compute distances between individuals and sound alerts if distance protocol is violated.

"We have already deployed the same at our campus marketplace and are also discussing possible installations in some areas at Kolkata," Tewari added.

Students at IIT Guwahati have, on the other hand, developed a mobile application called 'Flyzy' to provide a safe, seamless and contactless air travelling experience to passengers.

The one-stop smartphone application can provide contactless flight boarding facility by taking care of contactless easier baggage drop, manageable parking, a better shopping experience and necessary updates during a flight-trip.

Aiming to provide safe, hygienic and contactless experiences to visitors and customers while following government norms of Unlock 4.0, end user industries like malls and multiplexes are also making most of such innovations.

For instance, apart from incorporating 'DOTPe' which is a contactless food ordering and payment service for its food courts, Nexus Malls has also roped in services of a third party developer 'Delopt' for monitoring footfalls at its mall properties.

The latter's system tracks heat signatures at the mall entrance thereby providing the management real-time data of walk-ins and walk-outs from Nexus' properties.

"Some cities have social distancing norms of 75 sq ft per person, while others have 100 sq ft per person. Hence, based on the city norms, social distancing is monitored not only at the mall entrance, but also at retail partners' shops within the mall.

"If the numbers go beyond the prescribed limit, entry is restricted till the desired level is achieved," said Jayen Naik, vice president, Nexus Malls.

The developer is now on the lookout for more such technology and innovation that could help smoothen its operations under Unlock 4.0 while ensuring safety, hygiene and following of MHA norms.

Not just physics, even ayurveda has inspired scientists.

Recently, the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Pune, has developed herbal-based immunity boosting room freshener product named “Healthy Air” to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The product Healthy Air has been developed by the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering with various extracts of herbal oils like neem, neelgiri, camphor, daalcheeni, tulsi, lemon, turmeric, laung, ajwain, lavender, elaichi, turmeric, natural vetiveru, raimuniya and pine oil.

The institute claims that this product purifies the air and makes it breathable.

In an attempt to scale up their innovations, organisations and institutes like PerSapien and IIT Guwahati are on the lookout for manufacturing partners.

While the same holds true for IIT Kharagpur, some of the products developed are under commercialisation through its Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Park (STEP).

Meanwhile, Shycocan has been priced at Rs 19,999, with Eureka Forbes marketing it now.

"We have formed a consortium of 'humanitarian' marketing and manufacturing companies and we sell it at a cost plus basis.

"It is important, I feel, to unlock. The only way one can bring the economy back on track," says Kumar.

Photograph: Kind courtesy, Organization de Scalene

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Sohini Das & Vinay Umarji in Ahmedabad
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