Intel AMA
Intel AMA

dVerse Labs makes hospitals safer with UVfy, their smart modular sterilization tech

Aditya Madanapalle | Published on 14 Jul 2021
dVerse Labs makes hospitals safer with UVfy, their smart modular sterilization tech

dVerse Labs is a timely startup, that uses modular UV based cleaning components to automaticaly sterlize common touchpoints such as elevators and handrails. The current deployment setup is specialized for hospitals, for cleaning hotpots such as reception desks and consulting rooms, after every patient visit. The UV sterilization tech uses innovative tech hidden away discreetly within handrails, with smart sensors embedded throughout. Additionally, the entire system has a modular design, which allows the purification systems to be setup similar to LEGO bricks. One of the first questions we had was the innovative development of a modular system, and its efficacy. “UVfy is a sterilizer that consists of handrail modules that can be assembled onto confined spaces like elevators. It uses UV lights that turn on automatically after every patient visit. The metaphor of LEGO is being used with respect to the modularity of UV-light enabled handrail modules to suit confined spaces of varied dimensions. The effectiveness of UV light decreases with distance from the target to be disinfected. Most of the common touchpoints are within reach of the users near the handrail which is why we decided to integrate the lights seamlessly into handrails. This was also verified by the various simulations and testing with the UV meter.”

The team was researching and designing low cost medical devices when the pandemic broke out and then came together to pool their expertise to address the new concerns raised by the outbreak, “when the pandemic began, Krishna, Deepika, Shreyas and Vivek started collaborating together as designers and engineers since we were all driven by the passion to create impact. Krishna Thiruvengadam is an Impact Designer with a Masters in Product Design from TU Delft, Netherlands. He was awarded the James Dyson Award for Excelscope, a low-cost AI-based malaria diagnostic device and his work on developing a non-braille human computer interface that assists blind people coders has been published in Nature, the world's leading scientific journal. Deepika Gopalakrishnan, a recent product design graduate from PES University, Bangalore, has published a research paper on designing a healthcare monitoring device for pregnant women in Springer and presented her work in the International Conference on Research into Design 2021 (ICoRD). Vivek Devaraj, coming from a Masters in Automotive Technology from TU Eindhoven, Netherlands, has more than 7 years of work experience in product development and automotive engineering. Shreyas Prakash, also with a Masters in Integrated Product Design from TU Delft, Netherlands, had served international clients in the field of health-care related product design and was the recipient of iF Design Talent Award 2020, for Equarun, an assistive device for deafblind runners. Sameer Mallik who is an innovation expert  whose core experience is in designing and implementing innovation programs for early-stage ventures has been guiding us as a business consultant. Having a prior background in developing award-winning low-cost medical technologies, we wanted to create technologies to tackle pandemic-related challenges in the healthcare sector. After talking to doctors across India, we identified the need for a portable sterilizer that addresses common touchpoints, preventing cross-contamination in COVID-19 isolation wards and ICUs. We developed Sterilo and got an opportunity to present our work to researchers across 11 Latin American countries. We emerged as winners of the healthcare track in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s COVID-19 challenge. With the support of the MIT grant, we proceeded to develop UVfy, an AI-based sterilizer for elevators. Several studies indicated elevators to be a high-risk transmission point for hospital-acquired infections(HAIs) since they are confined spaces with a lack of adequate ventilation. More than half the medical staff we surveyed were worried about accessing elevators, especially during the pandemic. UVfy makes confined spaces like elevators safer to access for patients and the healthcare staff.” 

The device was developed, prototyped and manufactured during the pandemic, and the team would have to source the components through fragile distribution channels during uncertain times. The team used much of the tools that all of us did, “for the initial few months, all of us founders were working from different locations- Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Netherlands and Delhi. Virtually collaborating to build a tangible product came with its own challenges. How do you communicate and discuss ideas through an audio call? In a physical space, a simple gesture might have done all the talking. How do you create a video or a 3D model or a prototype virtually? How do you build a sense of team in a virtual environment? While we are still on our quest of finding answers to these questions, we create virtual co-working spaces and use tools like Figma, Notion and Miro to collaborate and, Slack and Google Meet for communication. If you’re building a tangible product, there’s only so much you can do virtually. Despite the risk of getting COVID ourselves, eventually, we stepped out there taking all the precautions, sourced materials and built an MVP (minimum viable product). After multiple rounds of iterations and in-house testing, we conducted successful pilots at Aysha hospital, Hotel Cenneys Gateway and PES University. We also got the product certified at an ICMR-empanelled lab. We have installed the product in 5 hospitals across Tamil Nadu and are looking to reach more hospitals across India to create a greater impact.” When asked if dVerse is taking the licensing route, they responded, “yes…. We are in talks with elevator manufacturers to help us reach the technology to more people, and are already in talks with major elevator companies like Kone, Johnson and Schindler.”

When asked about the next steps for the startup, dVerse tells us, “We are looking at tackling the problem of hospital-acquired infections from a system perspective by first tackling individual nodes within the hospital. We are an impact-focused company. With the rising oxygen crisis in the second wave, we are developing oxygen concentrators based on the open-source project, Oxikit at an affordable price using locally sourced components.” Then, dVerse told us how the Nexus (a startup incubator) acceleration helped the startup, “Nexus was a great learning experience and we feel much more confident as entrepreneurs. We had focused sessions on finance, marketing and great workshops from industry experts. Nexus creates a safe space for everyone to voice their opinions and doubts without the fear of being judged. It is definitely the best place for tech entrepreneurs to gain more practical knowledge about how to go about running a business.” 

 

Aditya Madanapalle
Aditya Madanapalle

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About Me: Aditya Madanapalle, has studied journalism, multimedia technologies and ancient runes, used to make the covermount DVDs when they were still a thing, but now focuses on the science stories and features. Read More

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startup nexus dverse uvfy sterilization hospitals
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