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Doing our bit: Helping to fight the pandemic with technology

Engineering
5 min read
Doing our bit: Helping to fight the pandemic with technology
Sophie Brown
April 7th, 2020

COVID-19 is continuing to spread, putting significant strain on healthcare systems and resources around the world. Luckily, there are a number of initiatives aimed at supporting our healthcare workers and researchers during this time. Here are a few things we’re doing to help.

As a tech company that produces hardware, Airtame is lucky enough to have access to technology and tools that can be used — not only in the development of our own products — but to help others.

With COVID-19 placing a lot of pressure on healthcare systems and resources around the world, there is a range of organizations and initiatives working to help healthcare workers and researchers to treat, and eventually, find a vaccine for the virus. Thanks to these organizations, there are a few small things we can do to support healthcare workers and researchers during this time.

3D printing to help our healthcare workers

Like many technology companies these days, Airtame uses 3D printing to make and test our prototypes.

One of the amazing things about 3D printing is that it can be used to create products that solve real-world problems.

A major issue facing healthcare facilities around the world at the moment is a shortage in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Equipment such as face masks and shields are vitally important for those working on the frontline, such as doctors and nurses, as it can help protect them against Coronavirus.

We first became aware of the opportunity to help the healthcare sector during COVID-19 with 3D printing through Prusa Printers. Off the back of global shortages of face shields for medical personnel exposing themselves to COVID-19, Prusa Printers designed a 3D-printable visor holder for healthcare workers and made the design open-source for home printing.

Airtame has since joined the online communities like the global Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS) and the more local DK Makers Against Corona (MMC) – newly established networks of professionals, makers and home tinkerers producing PPE for the healthcare sector based on hospital-approved open-source designs. We have put our own prototyping on hold and are channeling our resources towards printing as many visors as possible. Some of our employees also have access to their own 3D printers and are jumping on board the DK Makers initiative to make visor holders for Region Zealand, who will then distribute the finished materials to hospitals around Denmark.

So far, we’ve made 50 visor holders, but we’re printing every waking hour and aiming to make at least 200. This might not sound like much, but every little bit counts. Currently, the community has produced more than 24,000 units and are producing around 2500 units each day and growing.

Nadiim Nafei, Mechanical Design Engineer at Airtame is spearheading this project, using Airtame’s 3D printers to create PPE from his very own living room during the lockdown.

“As makers, many of us have access to 3D printing technology and the ability to produce useful materials that are desperately needed during times of crisis. There are people making face masks, face shields, Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR) and even mechanical ventilators. It’s amazing to see communities around the world mobilizing to help out our healthcare workers.”

Lending a hand in COVID-19 research

Folding at Home is a crowdsourced project focused on disease research. It involves anyone with a personal computer and spare processing resources installing the software on their systems and running simulations of different proteins.

How exactly does Folding at Home work? Viruses such as COVID-19 have proteins that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. In order to tackle Coronavirus, we need to understand how these viral proteins work and how we can design therapeutics to stop them. Folding at Home uses a series of computer simulations to understand how the proteins are structured and how their parts move. Understanding COVID-19 requires a huge number of computer calculations, and therefore, a lot of computers with spare processing power.

Airtame is supporting the Folding at Home initiative for COVID-19 by lending computing power and running simulations on a number of our machines.

The Folding at Home community has more than a million computers contributing to the network and has now exceeded 1 trillion operations per second (or 1exaFLOP), making them more powerful than the World’s Top 7 Supercomputers, combined.

Interested in helping out? You can download the Folding@Home client and donate your spare CPU and GPU cycles to the cause.

Hacking the Crisis

Airtamers also participated in Hack the Crisis, a Denmark-based 48-hour non-profit online hackathon designed to fight the COVID-19 crisis. Airtame’s Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Attila Sukosd, participated in the initiative and helped mentor four teams.

The hackathon brought together people from all sectors and backgrounds, focusing on the containment of COVID-19 and the development of non-medical solutions to deal with its aftermath. There were some really inspiring projects, including gamifying the research for a vaccine, better queueing systems for supermarkets and pharmacies, reducing food waste for restaurants using AI and creating an open-source ventilator for under $100.

There are many more initiatives running around the world in the fight against COVID-19. Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies has consolidated a list of both local and national initiatives and projects for people to locate and support during this time. You can check out the list here. If you know of any initiatives you think Airtame could help with that haven’t been mentioned or listed here, reach out and let us know.

If we each try to do our bit — however small our contribution may seem — we’ll overcome this situation together.

Interested? Let’s talk.

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Sophie Brown
As Product Marketing Manager at Airtame, Sophie enjoys taking complex product information and making it simple. When she's not at Airtame, she's exploring new places and searching for the nearest puppy to pet.

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