Technologies for the new normal

Devices, materials and equipment

Devices, materials and equipment

In the era of the new normal, many everyday items will be adapted and/or optimised to help prevent infection. Some of these items are integral to our daily lives (e.g. telephone equipment, computer terminals, clothing) whereas others are more specialized (e.g. respirators) and by adapting them in ways that reduce the spread of the virus they can be useful tools to save lives in the current pandemic.

The materials from which buildings or rooms are made can combat viruses and bacteria.

The design of an aircraft's interior, as well as onboard ventilation and hygiene, can all help to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria.

Remote-controlled aircraft, quadcopters and drones, can be useful in a variety of ways, e.g. to spray disinfectant or pesticides to suppress the spread of disease.

The design and construction of the interiors of other vehicles can be just as important to reduce the spread of disease between passengers.

Our telephones are another potential source of infection - any contamination on them will quickly be on our hands and/or faces.

The design and construction of isolation rooms in hospitals or isolation boxes in laboratories can be especially important for handling infectious materials.

Respirators have proven to be essential for the seriously sick, and this technical field has seen a surge in innovation in recent months.

Components for face masks and respirators produced by additive manufacturing (i.e. by 3D-printing)

Clinical personnel need a variety of gowns, masks and gloves to stay safe when treating infected patients. There are many inventions related to personal protective equipment ("PPE")

This section concerns a variety of furniture for the workplace, in business premises and in the home.

Material science has given us a wide variety of compositions and coatings, textiles and fibres that can have anti-viral, disinfecting or repellent properties.

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Procedures, actions and activities

Procedures, actions and activities

Our environment will adapt to minimise the spread of coronavirus. Innovations in the field of sterilisers and disinfectants will be coupled with other innovations for how to apply these sanitary materials to our homes, workplaces, transport means and leisure facilities. Ensuring and maintaining clean air supplies will also play a vital role in securing a safe environment for our daily routines.

Clean room technologies concern methods and equipment to contain e.g. fumes or vapours and safely process them,  e.g. through extractor hoods, as well as devices for preventing fouling (e.g. preventing the build-up of matter).

The air that we breathe is as essential to viral spread as it is to us. Providing and maintaining clean air will play a key role in the fight against coronavirus.

There are many different types of plastics, and some can be made in such a way as to have antiviral/antibacterial properties and/or to have coatings that act as a barrier against viruses, bacteria and other pathogenic organisms.

Disinfectants are often more effective when delivered as sprays, so that the aerosol droplets reach further and wider. Sprayers for disinfectants come in many sizes for different roles.

Depending on what needs to be cleaned, the processes for disinfecting will need to the tailored accordingly - from cleaning hands, to lavatories to vehicles.

Protecting medical practitioners is as important as protecting the patients they are treating - protection must work both ways. Doctors, surgeons and nurses use especially thorough cleaning practices.

Negative pressure ventilators (so-called "iron-lung", cuirass or tank ventilators) are usually non-invasive, so patients would not need to have their lungs intubated. The patients can remain conscious, take medication and nutrition by mouth and talk freely. Some versions can be used on a normal ward, keeping patients out of intensive care.

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Digital technologies

Digital technologies

Prevention is better than cure, and technology is an important means to support the population in prevention. Digital technologies will play an increasingly important role too. Contact tracing, for example, has become a standard pandemic counter-measure in many countries. Artificial intelligence can be harnessed to provide both an understanding of how the virus spreads as well as ways to contain it. Many aspects of the new normal will rely on digital technologies to keep us safe.

Modern tickets machines, vending machines, cash dispensers and the like all present a  risk of infection because they are touched by many strangers. Providing a contactless user interface is another way to reduce infection.

We are carriers of the virus and our behaviours are key to containing viral spread. Monitoring technologies will thus play an increasingly important role in shaping the new normal.

Telecommunications is playing a vital role - every smartphone can be a tool to prevent the spread of disease.

Artificial intelligence can be harnessed to help combat viral spread by understanding the mechanisms of disease and determining pharmaceutical treatments.

To combat the virus, one must detect it. Virus detection, imaging and analysis are the first steps towards treatment.

Our experts have created a spreadsheet containing additional information on all the search strategies for you to download. You can use the sample Espacenet search statements contained in the document or adapt the search strategies to your own platform and needs.

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