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(c) Fraunhofer IKTS
02.08.2022

Fraunhofer technology: High-tech vest monitors lung function

Patients with severe respiratory or lung diseases require intensive treatment and their lung function needs to be monitored on a continuous basis. As part of the Pneumo.Vest project, Fraunhofer researchers have developed a technology whereby noises in the lungs are recorded using a textile vest with integrated acoustic sensors. The signals are then converted and displayed visually using software. In this way, patients outside of intensive care units can still be monitored continuously. The technology increases the options for diagnosis and improves the patient’s quality of life.

For over 200 years, the stethoscope has been a standard tool for doctors and, as such, is a symbol of the medical profession. In television hospital dramas, doctors are seen rushing through the halls with a stethoscope around their neck. Experienced doctors do indeed use them to listen very accurately to heartbeats and the lungs and, as a result, to diagnose illnesses.

Patients with severe respiratory or lung diseases require intensive treatment and their lung function needs to be monitored on a continuous basis. As part of the Pneumo.Vest project, Fraunhofer researchers have developed a technology whereby noises in the lungs are recorded using a textile vest with integrated acoustic sensors. The signals are then converted and displayed visually using software. In this way, patients outside of intensive care units can still be monitored continuously. The technology increases the options for diagnosis and improves the patient’s quality of life.

For over 200 years, the stethoscope has been a standard tool for doctors and, as such, is a symbol of the medical profession. In television hospital dramas, doctors are seen rushing through the halls with a stethoscope around their neck. Experienced doctors do indeed use them to listen very accurately to heartbeats and the lungs and, as a result, to diagnose illnesses.

Now, the stethoscope is getting some help. As part of the Pneumo.Vest project, researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS at the Berlin office have developed a textile vest with integrated acoustic sensors, presenting a high-performance addition to the traditional stethoscope. Piezoceramic acoustic sensors have been incorporated into the front and back of the vest to register any noise produced by the lungs in the thorax, no matter how small. A software program records the signals and electronically amplifies them, while the lungs are depicted visually on a display. As the software knows the position of each individual sensor, it can attribute the data to its precise location. This produces a detailed acoustic and optical picture of the ventilation situation of all parts of the lungs. Here is what makes it so special: As the system collects and stores the data permanently, examinations can take place at any given time and in the absence of hospital staff. Pneumo.Vest also indicates the status of the lungs over a period of time, for example over the previous 24 hours. Needless to say, traditional auscultation can also be carried out directly on the patients. However, instead of carrying out auscultation manually at different points with a stethoscope, a number of sensors are used simultaneously.

“Pneumo.Vest is not looking to make the stethoscope redundant and does not replace the skills of experienced pneumologists. However, auscultation or even CT scans of the lungs only ever present a snapshot at the time of the examination. Our technology provides added value because it allows for the lungs to be monitored continuously in the same way as a long-term ECG, even if the patient is not attached to machines in the ICU but has instead been admitted to the general ward,” explains Ralf Schallert, project manager at Fraunhofer IKTS.

Machine learning algorithms aid with diagnosis
Alongside the acoustic sensors, the software is at the core of the vest. It is responsible for storing, depicting and analyzing the data. It can be used by the doctor to view the acoustic events in specific individual areas of the lungs on the display. The use of algorithms in digital signal processing enables a targeted evaluation of acoustic signals. This means it is possible, for example, to filter out heartbeats or to amplify characteristic frequency ranges, making lung sounds, such as rustling or wheezing, much easier to hear.

On top of this, the researchers at Fraunhofer IKTS are developing machine learning algorithms. In the future, these will be able to structure and classify complex ambient noises in the thorax. Then, the pneumologist will carry out the final assessment and diagnosis.

Discharge from the ICU
Patients can also benefit from the digital sensor alternative. When wearing the vest, they can recover without requiring constant observation from medical staff. They can transfer to the general ward and possibly even be sent home and move about more or less freely. Despite this, the lungs are monitored continuously, and any sudden deterioration can be reported to medical personnel straight away.

The first tests with staff at the University Clinic for Anesthesiology and Intensive Therapy at the University of Magdeburg have shown that the concept is successful in practice. “The feedback from doctors was overwhelmingly positive. The combination of acoustic sensors, visualization and machine learning algorithms will be able to reliably distinguish a range of different lung sounds,” explains Schallert. Dr. Alexander Uhrig from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin is also pleased with the technology. The specialist in infectiology and pneumology at the renowned Charité hospital was one of those who initiated the idea: “Pneumo.Vest addresses exactly what we need. It serves as an instrument that expands our diagnostic options, relieves the burden on our hospital staff and makes hospital stays more pleasant for patients.”

The technology was initially designed for respiratory patients, but it also works well for people in care facilities and for use in sleep laboratories. It can also be used to train young doctors in auscultation.

Increased need for clinical-grade wearables
With Pneumo.Vest, the researchers at Fraunhofer IKTS have developed a product that is cut out for the increasingly strained situation at hospitals. In Germany, 385,000 patients with respiratory or lung diseases require inpatient treatment every year. Over 60 percent are connected to a ventilator for more than 24 hours. This figure does not account for the current increase in respiratory patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of increasing life expectancy, the medical industry also expects the number of older patients with breathing problems to increase. With the help of technology from Fraunhofer IKTS, the burden on hospitals and, in particular, costly ICUs can be relieved as their beds will no longer be occupied for quite as long.

It should be added that the market for such clinical-grade wearables is growing rapidly. These are compact medical devices that can be worn directly on the body to measure vital signs such as heartbeat, blood oxygen saturation, respiratory rate or skin temperature. As a medical device that can be used flexibly, Pneumo.Vest fits in perfectly with this development. But do not worry: Doctors will still be using the beloved stethoscope in the future.

Fraunhofer “M³ Infekt” cluster project
Pneumo.Vest is just one part of the extensive M³ Infekt cluster project. Its objective is to develop monitoring systems for the decentralized monitoring of patients. The current basis of the project is the treatment of COVID-19 patients. With the SARS-CoV2 virus, it is common for even mild cases to suddenly deteriorate significantly. By continuously monitoring vital signs, any deterioration in condition can be quickly identified and prompt measures for treatment can be taken.

M3 Infekt can also be used for a number of other symptoms and scenarios. The systems have been designed to be modular and multimodal so that biosignals such as heart rate, ECG, oxygen saturation, or respiratory rate and volume can be measured, depending on the patient and illness.

A total of ten Fraunhofer institutes are working on the cluster project under the leadership of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Dresden. Klinikum Magdeburg, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the University Hospitals of Erlangen and Dresden are involved as clinical partners.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technology and Systems IKTS

(c) Vincentz Network GmbH & Co. KG / ALTENPFLEGE
26.04.2022

ALTENPFLEGE 2022: Intelligently equipped rooms for more independence in old age

Most people want to live as independently as possible in old age. Exhibitors at the industry's leading trade fair ALTENPFLEGE from April 26 to 28 in Essen, Germany will be showing how senior facilities with modern interior design and smart equipment meet this need.

Demand for forms of housing such as service living is on the rise. Studies predict a need for around 540,000 new service living units in the coming years. One of the major trends at this year's 32nd edition of the Altenpflege trade fair is how senior facilities are meeting the rapidly growing demand with flexible room design and digital support. They can be seen in the Aveneo special show, including intelligent systems for stove shut-off, lighting control and room temperature, as well as for fall sensors and emergency calls.

Most people want to live as independently as possible in old age. Exhibitors at the industry's leading trade fair ALTENPFLEGE from April 26 to 28 in Essen, Germany will be showing how senior facilities with modern interior design and smart equipment meet this need.

Demand for forms of housing such as service living is on the rise. Studies predict a need for around 540,000 new service living units in the coming years. One of the major trends at this year's 32nd edition of the Altenpflege trade fair is how senior facilities are meeting the rapidly growing demand with flexible room design and digital support. They can be seen in the Aveneo special show, including intelligent systems for stove shut-off, lighting control and room temperature, as well as for fall sensors and emergency calls.

Future tenants or buyers of serviced apartments are prepared to invest specifically in their own living environment (source: Terragon study 2021). The focus is on a feel-good atmosphere, a high level of security and the option of using care services if required. "This can be facilitated by a cleverly thought-out arrangement of the rooms within a serviced apartment, for example by arranging the bathroom and bedroom right next to each other and making the wall with the washbasin rotatable," explains Carolin Pauly, managing director of Universal Rooms, which considers itself to be the interface between the wishes of the operators and the products in the serviced apartment market. "The furniture and furnishings industry is called upon to design modern collections with hidden product features that make life easier in old age," Pauly demands. This could be, for example, a grab handle built into the washbasin or a dining table that can be accessed by a wheelchair.

Lighting management also plays an important role. It should convey a sense of well-being and security as well as provide orientation and safety. Age-related clinical pictures in particular place high demands on lighting. Here, lighting systems that simulate the natural day and night rhythm can provide help.

Living, care and digitalization combined
The Chief Executive Officer of the Evangelische Heimstiftung (EHS - Evangelical Home Foundation), Bernhard Schneider, sees "an individually and comfortably furnished apartment that uses intelligent technology to provide a great deal of security and self-determination" as the senior living of the future. "I am certain: In the future, in a sector-free setting, we will have to understand housing, nursing and care, and digitalization even more strongly as building blocks that can be combined as needed."

According to Schneider, this starts with housing: In a nursing apartment or an assisted living apartment, in a shared apartment or other form of communal living, in a residence or an intergenerational project. All forms of housing should be well integrated into the neighborhood - this requires reliable, financed advisory structures, for example through neighborhood managers. In addition, there is care, support and assistance, in the form of day or night care, a mobile service or volunteers. "And technology, for example through our Aladien system, i.e. with intelligent home emergency call, fall sensors, stove shut-off, roller shutters and light control, video door telephony, etc. In the future, Aladien will evolve into a service robot," predicts Schneider.

This makes it possible for people to live a self-determined life and participate in society, even in old age. That's what people want, he says: a pleasant living environment, social contacts, cultural offerings and the certainty that someone will take care of them if necessary. "What we need for this is political commitment in the form of an ambitious funding program for modern forms of housing in old age," demands the EHS CEO. This would not only help the older generation, but young families could also benefit because this would free up the far too spacious apartments and terraced houses of the older generation for them.


ALTENPFLEGE – Trade fair and congress for the care industry since 1990
The traditional leading trade show for the care industry has so far been held alternately in Hanover and Nuremberg. From this year it alternates between Essen and Nuremberg. It covers all segments of professional geriatric care: services and products for care and therapy, occupation and education, IT and management, nutrition and home economics, textiles and hygiene as well as space and technology. In more than 30 lecture blocks, the accompanying trade congress covers the current topics of the industry, such as digitalization, the future of professional nursing care, hospice and palliative care, training or the new collectively agreed payment under the Healthcare Development Act (Gesundheitsversorgungsweiterentwicklungsgesetz - GVWG).

(c) Empa
05.04.2022

In the heat of the wound: Smart bandage

A bandage that releases medication as soon as an infection starts in a wound could treat injuries more efficiently. Empa researchers are currently working on polymer fibers that soften as soon as the environment heats up due to an infection, thereby releasing antimicrobial drugs.

It is not possible to tell from the outside whether a wound will heal without problems under the dressing or whether bacteria will penetrate the injured tissue and ignite an inflammation. To be on the safe side, disinfectant ointments or antibiotics are applied to the wound before the dressing is applied. However, these preventive measures are not necessary in every case. Thus, medications are wasted and wounds are over-treated.

A bandage that releases medication as soon as an infection starts in a wound could treat injuries more efficiently. Empa researchers are currently working on polymer fibers that soften as soon as the environment heats up due to an infection, thereby releasing antimicrobial drugs.

It is not possible to tell from the outside whether a wound will heal without problems under the dressing or whether bacteria will penetrate the injured tissue and ignite an inflammation. To be on the safe side, disinfectant ointments or antibiotics are applied to the wound before the dressing is applied. However, these preventive measures are not necessary in every case. Thus, medications are wasted and wounds are over-treated.

Even worse, the wasteful use of antibiotics promotes the emergence of multi-resistant germs, which are an immense problem in global healthcare. Empa researchers at the two Empa laboratories Biointerfaces and Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles in St. Gallen want to change this. They are developing a dressing that autonomously administers antibacterial drugs only when they are really needed.

The idea of the interdisciplinary team led by Qun Ren and Fei Pan: The dressing should be "loaded" with drugs and react to environmental stimuli. "In this way, wounds could be treated as needed at exactly the right moment," explains Fei Pan. As an environmental stimulus, the team chose a well-known effect: the rise in temperature in an infected, inflamed wound.

Now the team had to design a material that would react appropriately to this increase in temperature. For this purpose, a skin-compatible polymer composite was developed made of several components: acrylic glass (polymethyl methacrylate, or PMMA), which is used, for example, for eyeglass lenses and in the textile industry, and Eudragit, a biocompatible polymer mixture that is used, for example, to coat pills. Electrospinning was used to process the polymer mixture into a fine membrane of nanofibers. Finally, octenidine was encapsulated in the nanofibers as a medically active component. Octenidine is a disinfectant that acts quickly against bacteria, fungi and some viruses. In healthcare, it can be used on the skin, on mucous membranes and for wound disinfection.

Signs of inflammation as triggers
As early as in the ancient world, the Greek physician Galen described the signs of inflammation. The five Latin terms are still valid today: dolor (pain), calor (heat), rubor (redness), tumor (swelling) and functio laesa (impaired function) stand for the classic indications of inflammation. In an infected skin wound, local warmth can be as high as five degrees. This temperature difference can be used as a trigger: Suitable materials change their consistency in this range and can release therapeutic substances.

Shattering glove
"In order for the membrane to act as a "smart bandage" and actually release the disinfectant when the wound heats up due to an infection, we put together the polymer mixture of PMMA and Eudragit in such a way that we could adjust the glass transition temperature accordingly," says Fei Pan. This is the temperature, at which a polymer changes from a solid consistency to a rubbery, toughened state. Figuratively, the effect is often described in reverse: If you put a rubber glove in liquid nitrogen at –196 degrees, it changes its consistency and becomes so hard that you can shatter it like glass with one blow.

The desired glass transition temperature of the polymer membrane, on the other hand, was in the range of 37 degrees. When inflammation kicks in and the skin heats up above its normal temperature of 32 to 34 degrees, the polymer changes from its solid to a softer state. In laboratory experiments, the team observed the disinfectant being released from the polymer at 37 degrees – but not at 32 degrees. Another advantage: The process is reversible and can be repeated up to five times, as the process always "switches itself off" when it cools down. Following these promising initial tests, the Empa researchers now want to fine-tune the effect. Instead of a temperature range of four to five degrees, the smart bandage should already switch on and off at smaller temperature differences.

Smart and unsparing
To investigate the efficacy of the nanofiber membranes against wound germs, further laboratory experiments are now in the pipeline. Team leader Qun Ren has long been concerned with germs that nestle in the interface between surfaces and the environment, such as on a skin wound. "In this biological setting, a kind of no man's land between the body and the dressing material, bacteria find a perfect biological niche," says the Empa researcher. Infectious agents such as staphylococci or Pseudomonas bacteria can cause severe wound healing disorders. It was precisely these wound germs that the team allowed to become acquainted with the smart dressing in the Petri dish. And indeed: The number of bacteria was reduced roughly 1000-fold when octenidine was released from the smart dressing. "With octenidine, we have achieved a proof of principle for controlled drug release by an external stimulus," said Qun Ren. In future, she said, the technology could be applied to other types of drugs, increasing the efficiency and precision in their dosage.

The smart dressing
Empa researchers are working in interdisciplinary teams on various approaches to improve medical wound treatment. For example, liquid sensors on the outside of the dressing are to make it visible when a wound is healing poorly by changing their color. Critical glucose and pH values serve as biomarkers.

To enable bacterial infections to be contained directly in the wound, the researchers are also working on a polymer foam loaded with anti-inflammatory substances and on a skin-friendly membrane made of plant material. The cellulose membrane is equipped with antimicrobial protein elements and kills bacteria extremely efficiently in laboratory tests.

Moreover, digitalization can achieve more economical and efficient dosages in wound care: Empa researchers are developing digital twins of the skin that allow control and prediction of the course of a therapy using real-time modeling.

Further information:
Prof. Dr. Katharina
Maniura Biointerfaces
Phone +41 58 765 74 47
Katharina.Maniura@empa.ch

Prof. Dr. René Rossi
Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles
Phone +41 58 765 77 65
Rene.rossi@empa.ch

Source:

EMPA, Andrea Six

(c) Empa
08.02.2022

Early detection of dementia with a textile belt

Alzheimer's and other dementias are among the most widespread diseases today. Diagnosis is complex and can often only be established with certainty late in the course of the disease. A team of Empa researchers, together with clinical partners, is now developing a new diagnostic tool that can detect the first signs of neurodegenerative changes using a sensor belt.

Forgetfulness and confusion can be signs of a currently incurable ailment: Alzheimer's disease. It is the most common form of dementia that currently affect around 50 million people worldwide. It mainly afflicts older people. The fact that this number will increase sharply in the future is therefore also related to the general increase in life expectancy.

Alzheimer's and other dementias are among the most widespread diseases today. Diagnosis is complex and can often only be established with certainty late in the course of the disease. A team of Empa researchers, together with clinical partners, is now developing a new diagnostic tool that can detect the first signs of neurodegenerative changes using a sensor belt.

Forgetfulness and confusion can be signs of a currently incurable ailment: Alzheimer's disease. It is the most common form of dementia that currently affect around 50 million people worldwide. It mainly afflicts older people. The fact that this number will increase sharply in the future is therefore also related to the general increase in life expectancy.

If dementia is suspected, neuropsychological examinations, laboratory tests and demanding procedures in the hospital are required. However, the first neurodegenerative changes in the brain occur decades before a reduced cognitive ability becomes apparent. Currently, these can only be detected by expensive or invasive procedures. These methods are thus not suitable for extensive early screenings on a larger scale. Empa researchers are working with partners from the Cantonal Hospital and the Geriatric Clinic in St. Gallen on a non-invasive diagnostic method that detects the early processes of dementia.

Signs in the unconscious
For the new method, the researchers Patrick Eggenberger and Simon Annaheim from Empa's Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles lab in St. Gallen relied on a sensor belt that has already been used successfully for ECG measurements and has now been equipped with sensors for other relevant parameters such as body temperature and gait pattern. This is because long before memory starts to deteriorate in dementia, subtle changes appear in the brain, which are expressed through unconscious bodily reactions.

These changes can only be recorded precisely when measurements are taken over a longer period of time, though. "It should be possible to integrate the long-term measurements into everyday life," explains Simon Annaheim. Skin-friendly and comfortable monitoring systems are essential for measurements that are suitable for everyday use. The diagnostic belt is therefore based on flexible sensors with electrically conductive or light-conducting fibers as well as sensors for motion and temperature measurement.

To enable such long-term measurements to be used for monitoring neurocognitive health, the researchers are integrating the collected data into in-house developed mathematical models. The goal: an early warning system that can estimate the progression of cognitive impairment. Another advantage is that the data measurements can be integrated into telemonitoring solutions and can thus improve patient care in their familiar environment.

Suspicious monotony
The human body is able to keep its temperature constant in a range of 1 degree Celsius. The values naturally oscillate in the course of the day. This daily rhythm changes with age and is conspicuous in neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Parkinson's disease. In Alzheimer's patients, for example, the core body temperature is elevated by up to 0.2 degrees Celsius. At the same time, the spikes in daily temperature fluctuations are dampened.

In a study, the researchers have now been able to show that altered skin temperature readings measured with the sensor belt actually provide an indication of the cognitive performance of test subjects – and can do so well before dementia develops. The test subjects in the study included healthy people with or without mild brain impairment. This mild cognitive impairment (MCI) does not represent a disability in everyday life, but it is considered a possible precursor to Alzheimer's disease. The subjects took part in long-term measurements and neuropsychological tests. It was found that a lower body temperature, which fluctuated more throughout the day, was linked to a better cognitive performance. In individuals with MCI, body temperature varied less and was slightly elevated overall.

The heartbeat is also subject to natural variations that show how our nervous system adapts to sudden challenges. The small silence between two heartbeats, about one second in duration, has great significance for our health: If this pause always remains the same, our nervous system is not at its best.

A study by researchers from ETH Zurich determined that poorer measurements in older, healthy people can be improved within six months through cognitive-motor dance training. In these "exergames," the test subjects imitated sequences of steps from a video. In contrast, participants who instead only trained in straight lines on a treadmill, but also trained their memory, benefited less.

"The point is to intervene early with appropriate training as soon as the first negative signs can be measured," says Patrick Eggenberger. "With our sensor system, any improvements in cognitive performance can be tracked through movement-based forms of therapy." Studies with long-term monitoring will now be used to clarify how the sensor measurements can be used to predict the progression of mild brain disorders.

Further information
Dr. Simon Annaheim
Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles   
Phone +41 58 765 77 68
Simon.Annaheim@empa.ch

More information:
Empa Membrane Medical & Healthcare
Source:

EMPA, Andrea Six

Photo: pixabay
17.08.2021

Innovative wound care: Customized wound dressings made from tropoelastin

Customized, biomedically applicable materials based on tropoelastin are being developed in a joint project by Skinomics GmbH from Halle, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS. The material combines biocompatibility, durability, biodegradability and favorable mechanical properties similar to those of skin. Preclinical tests have confirmed that it is suitable for use as a wound dressing material used in the treatment of chronic and complex wounds.

Customized, biomedically applicable materials based on tropoelastin are being developed in a joint project by Skinomics GmbH from Halle, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS. The material combines biocompatibility, durability, biodegradability and favorable mechanical properties similar to those of skin. Preclinical tests have confirmed that it is suitable for use as a wound dressing material used in the treatment of chronic and complex wounds.

Particularly in the context of an aging society, special wound dressings are gaining in importance. The treatment of complex wound diseases such as venous ulcers, leg ulcers, or foot ulcers is challenging for medical staff, long-term and painful for those affected and cost-intensive for the healthcare system. Innovative protein-based materials are now being used for the treatment of such wounds. However, since they are made from animal tissues, they carry increased risks of infection or can result in undesirable immune reactions. In addition, there are increasing reservations in the population about medical products of animal origin.

In the joint research project, the project partners are currently developing customized, biomedically applicable materials based on human tropoelastin. This precursor protein is converted in the body to elastin, a vital and long-lived structural biopolymer that has exceptional mechanical properties and thus gives the skin and other organs the elasticity and resilience they need to function.

“Elastin is chemically and enzymatically extremely stable, biocompatible and does not produce immunological rejections when used as a biomaterial in humans. Therefore, we want to create new and innovative solutions for the treatment of complex wounds based on human tropoelastin,” says Dr. Christian Schmelzer, Head of the Department of Biological and Macromolecular Materials at Fraunhofer IMWS.

Individual wound treatment
As part of the research project led by Prof. Dr. Markus Pietzsch of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the researchers succeeded in developing a biotechnological process for modifying tropoelastin. The modified tropoelastin is processed at Fraunhofer IMWS. Here, an electrospinning procedure is used to produce ultra-thin nanofibers with diameters of only a few hundred nanometers. The resulting nonwovens are further crosslinked to stabilize them for the respective application. The procedures developed have been optimized so that biomedical parameters such as pore size, stability and mechanical properties are variable and can thus be customized to meet the requirements of the respective wound treatment. The materials produced using the new procedures are being investigated by Skinomics GmbH in initial preclinical tests with regard to their skin compatibility and have already achieved promising results.

At the end of the project by the end of this year, applications for intellectual property rights are to be filed, building the basis for a subsequent product development phase for certified medical products.

08.12.2020

Fraunhofer FEP: Boosting Innovations for COVID-19 Diagnostic, Prevention and Surveillance

The recently launched 6.1 million Euro project INNO4COV-19, funded by the European Commission (grant agreement no. 101016203), will support the marketing of new products to combat COVID-19 over the next two years, throughout Europe. The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP is contributing its know-how in sterilization using accelerated electrons and on near-to-eye visualization.

The €6.1 million project INNO4COV-19 is committed to supporting the commercialization of new products across Europe for combatting COVID-19 over the next two years. Looking for the fast development of products – from medical technologies to surveillance solutions - the project will boost innovation to tackle the new coronavirus, reinforcing Europe's technological leadership, and invigorating an industrial sector capable of protecting citizens' safety and well-being.

The recently launched 6.1 million Euro project INNO4COV-19, funded by the European Commission (grant agreement no. 101016203), will support the marketing of new products to combat COVID-19 over the next two years, throughout Europe. The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP is contributing its know-how in sterilization using accelerated electrons and on near-to-eye visualization.

The €6.1 million project INNO4COV-19 is committed to supporting the commercialization of new products across Europe for combatting COVID-19 over the next two years. Looking for the fast development of products – from medical technologies to surveillance solutions - the project will boost innovation to tackle the new coronavirus, reinforcing Europe's technological leadership, and invigorating an industrial sector capable of protecting citizens' safety and well-being.

Officially starting on October 1, the virtual kick-off took place on October 6 – 7, counting with the support of two European Commission officers.

The 11-partner consortium led by INL – International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, is looking for efficient and fast solutions that can help in the fight against COVID-19 jointly with the other actively involved industrial and RTO partners.

The mission of INNO4COV-19 is to create a “lab-to-fab” platform and a collaboration resource where companies and reference laboratories will find the tools for developing and implementing innovative technologies – from idea assessment to market exploitation. This work will be carried out as part the European Union Coronavirus initiative and in strong collaboration with all the funded projects where to accelerate the time to market for any promising product.

INNO4COV-19 is set to assist up to 30 test cases and applications from several areas spanning from Medical technologies, Environmental Surveillance systems, Sensors, Protection of Healthcare workers and Artificial Intelligence and Data mining. To achieve this, INNO4COV-19 is awarding half of the budget to support 30 enterprises selected through a set number of open calls during the first year of the project.

The first call will be launched in November 2020 across several platforms. Awardees will receive up to €100,000 each and benefit from the INNO4COV-19 consortium's technical, regulatory, and business expertise.

Roll-to-Roll Equipment and Electron Beam Technology for Large Area Sterilization of textile materials
During pandemic events like COVID-19, MERS, SARS or Ebola a substantial shortage of sterile materials for medical uses was observed due to peak demands. Fraunhofer FEP will contribute their roll-to-roll equipment and electron beam technology for the purpose of large area sterilization of textile materials to the INNO4COV-19 project.

Usually the textile material is produced in non-sterile conditions and therefore must be sterilized before being delivered to the consumers (e. g. hospitals); Sterilization at product level (sterilizing the final manufactured masks) is limited in throughput, due to a high number of individual small pieces, that must be sterilized.

Project manager Dr. Steffen Günther of Fraunhofer FEP explains the role and aims of the institute in more detail: “INNO4COV-19 will establish and verify a process chain for high throughput (4500 m²/h) electron beam sterilization of fabric material in roll-form in a single TRL 7 pilot machine to allow efficient manufacturing of sterile face masks and other fabric based sterile products without the need to sterilize the final product.”

OLED Microdisplays for Detecting Infected People
Another topic of Fraunhofer FEP within INNO4COV-19 deals with the earliest possible detection of infected people. A widely used strategy to early identify individuals with disease symptoms is body temperature screening using thermal cameras.

One possibility to allow continuous body temperature monitoring, is the integration of a thermal camera into a smart wearable device. Therefore, Fraunhofer FEP is using their OLED microdisplay technology. This allows small (< 3 × 2 cm²), ultrathin (< 5 mm including control circuitry) and ultra-low power (< 5 mW) devices to show visual information. In combination with an infrared sensor a thermal imager will be realized to both measure body temperature and directly displays the result via near-to-eye visualization. The system can be embedded within smart glasses, hats, caps or personal face shields.

About INNO4COV-19 project:
Website: www.inno4cov19.eu
Please contact: info@inno4cov19.eu

 

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP