From specially designed umbrellas to helmets, Indians are attempting to get patent protection for a lot of inventions that they claim can prevent or treat COVID-19 infections. At least 38 COVID-19 applications filed by Indian innovators are pending before Indian Patent Office since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. The majority of applications claim to help you maintain social distancing, and thereby reduce the chances of infection.
Take the case of Kutikuppla Umbrella, named after its inventor, Visakhapatnam-based Kutikuppala Surya Rao. The product has been described as a "novel device of Kutikuppla Umbrella Principle for maintaining physical distance to prevent transmission of Covid-19".
It proposes an 'umbrella principle' that allows every person to maintain social distance of around four feet from each other using umbrellas. "The method to maintain physical distance enables the user to utilise umbrella canopy to block droplets from COVID-19 infected patients. The umbrella canopy is made of a black cloth material and aids to absorb heat and destroy deposits of coronavirus and prevents aerial transmission.
It is a simple, safe, and user friendly method of utilising umbrella that provides more than four feet distance between two people to maintain scientific and rational way of social or physical distancing," the inventor claims.
According to Rao, umbrella can even provide a shield from coronavirus-infected droplets when an adjacent user sneezes or coughs by tilting the umbrella canopy which can later be disinfected by washing with soap and water and drying it in sunlight. He recommends that every person use an umbrella - a conventional umbrella or a head-mounted umbrella or an antiviral umbrella treated with an antiviral solution - for better results.
Not every patent application for COVID-19 related innovations will look this simple. For instance, Hitesh Singh, Vivek Kumar and Kumud Saxena of Noida Institute of Engineering and Technology, Greater Noida are claiming protection from COVID-19 through a light weight portable helmet. Their invention claims to cover the entire head - hair, face, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, head, and upper body including neck and shoulders against COVID19.
"The front cover of the helmet is fitted with air filtration opening protected by an air filtration medium and the air filtration medium comprises of three layers of cloth and is replaceable. The helmet is capable of recording data from temperature sensors and communicating the same to the doctors to provide a real time data using IOT technology," the description of the invention in the patent application says.
Dhanapal Angamuthu, P. Nithyanandam and V. Neelanarayanan, researchers from the Vellore Institute of Technology, Chennai claim to have developed something even more complex. Their device - prevention and alertness wearable device for coronavirus - uses sensor technologies to detect body temperature and alerts the people of any sign of infection. This alerting device has a signal conditioning circuit and long-distance infrared temperature sensor that allow the user to get alarm according to the thermoregulatory set point.
"The device would be worn by the person who is involved in public service sectors such as police, banking, healthcare, etc. The temperature sensor (long-distance infrared) is used to sense whether the person is having fever or not. The DFRduino controller turns on the buzzing alarm, if the person's body temperature is above 100 degree F. By sensing the level of body temperature with the help of long-distance infrared temperature sensor, the proposed device helps social distancing and quarantining the person who is prone to coronovirus infection. This proposed invention enhances the limiting patient-to-public contact and community spread of the coronavirus," they say.
A different group of researchers, again from Chennai, R. Silambarasan, P. Baskara Sethupathi and J. Chandradass, have applied for patent protection for COVID-19 DEFENDER, another wearable product which once "worn by an individual at his/her chest level, will create an invisible boundary and cover 600mm from his/her own body".
According to them, the device will sense instantaneously any obstacle or object or if other human crosses the limit and alert the individual by creating a minor vibration and ensure their safety against coronavirus. They say it can be used to "curtain coronavirus spread by maintaining strict social distancing amongst fellowmen" as the ultrasonic proto-central sensor present in the device "will continuously sense 600mm radially for any objects' intervention".
Indian researchers are also making use of the country's traditional knowledge to invent products which they believe are patentable. The Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University, Lucknow is thus hoping to get patent protection for a "disinfectant tent" it has developed. The people who pass through the tent will be sterilised with steam of neem and turmeric herbs.
"Neem extract with Turmeric powder mix water is converted in to stream by steam generator and sprayed via venturi-piped showers inside the semi closed tent. Person can go inside fully and stand for few seconds which sterilise their entire body. This unit has been designed and able to develop indigenously in low cost, which is removing 90% of bacteria, viruses, including novel corona virus. With this instant disinfection technology, we prevent people in public from being infected by all microorganisms, including the coronavirus," says S. Devaneyan, the applicant and director of the centre, says.
A method which processes naturally occurring metallic ores and elements as prescribed in Sidhdha scrips to prepare medicated concoction that can be orally administered to COVID-19 infected patients in intervals is another cure by Indian scientists that awaits patent protection.
While the patent office has accepted these applications, it's going to be several months before one can be sure how many of them will get patents, and launch at a commercial level.