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Covid-19 update: 15 October 2020

15 Oct 2020

A round-up of this week's coronavirus-related news and countermeasures from the photonics industry.

Researchers in The Netherlands are developing a dashboard to predict where local outbreaks of Covid-19 infections may occur. A multidisciplinary research team led by Nelly Litvak, Professor of Algorithms for Complex Networks at the University of Twente, are working on the dashboard, thanks to a €500,000 grant from the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, known as ZonMW.

The team has worked since the corona outbreak in March to provide such predictions using aggregated mobility information from cell phone usage.

The grant will be used to significantly improve those predictions, through the smart combination with data from the Covid Radar App. This will enable safety regions, responsible for local and regional corona measures, to intervene faster and more effectively in the event of imminent corona outbreaks and can even prevent the emergence of new hotbeds.

It is hoped that the dashboard will make a big difference in this respect, says project leader Nelly Litvak. “By combining the aggregated mobility patterns with the risky behavior data in the mathematical model of the virus’s spread, we can determine the risks of it spreading from one area to another fairly accurately,” she said. “This should allow mayors of safety regions to detect a potential local wave of infections and take timely measures – something which is very important now that the virus seems to be taking hold again.”

The basis for identifying the infections is the Covid Radar App, developed by Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and in use since April of this year. With more than 3.5 million completed questionnaires by over 215,000 unique users, this app provides local insights into infectious concentrations. The data is fully anonymized and thus suitable to be shared for information analysis.

The combined data will be the input for IT service provider ilionx, which subsequently visualizes the regional risks in an easy-to-read dashboard. The dashboard will be a map of the Netherlands, divided into municipalities and security regions. It shows the historical and current patterns of infections and movements, and will also visualize a risk assessment of potential sources of infection in the near future.

Trumpf addresses pandemic and prepares for Brexit

Besides reporting significant drops in sales and orders this year – not blamed only on the 2020 pandemic but also a longer-term global slowdown – Trumpf has this week published a statement on the measures it is taking in anticipation of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, which is expected to finally happen at the end of December. It also comments on what it considers to be the greater threat to future business: the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its statement says, “In January 2019 we announced our Brexit strategy following our impact assessment performed during December 2018 in preparation of the expected departure date from the EU on the 29th March 2019.”

The company had in January, 2019, announced its Brexit strategy following an impact assessment performed during December 2018 in preparation of the UK’s expected departure date at the end of March, 2019.

It continues, “During the subsequent period we have frequently reviewed our strategy and considered the need to issue a further announcement. We believe that there is no need to modify our position. We find ourselves in the same situation as January 2019, with no further detail towards how the UK import and export processes will function from the 1st January 2021.

“The pandemic has and continues to be the greatest challenge for all businesses in 2020. Two of our mitigation strategies for Brexit were tested by this black swan event. The active exchange rate volatility and importation delay strategies were successful in mitigating the negative outcomes introduced by the restriction of movement around the globe. Therefore, the purpose of our communication is to update our customers on the existing strategies and the modifications applied from the experience we have gained in the last twenty-two months.”

UVC LEDs: one solution to contain the pandemic

A new market report from analyst Yole Développement, Lyon France, notes that “the pandemic has created momentum for the UVC LED industry. It has created such a peak in demand that an overall shortage appeared across the entire UVC LED supply chain in 2020.”

The report UV LEDs – Market and Technology Trends 2020 says, “In the current context of health crisis due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the need to prevent contagion through disinfection has become a major issue. Like other coronaviruses, this new virus can be destroyed by UV-C radiation. With the emergence of UV-C LEDs, the question of the relevance of using this technology to stop the current epidemic arises.”

“Finally, we are here. After more than 10 years of waiting, in 2020, the UV LED market could ramp up and reach the billion-dollar mark very rapidly,” commented Pars Mukish, Business Unit Manager, Solid-State Lighting & Display at Yole. “There is some good in everything bad, and the Covid-19 pandemic has created some perfect use-cases for this technology to spread across a rapidly-changing disinfection/purification market.”

Joël Thomé, CEO of Piseo, added, “In the current context of health crisis due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the need to prevent contagion through disinfection has become a major issue. Like other coronaviruses, this new virus can be destroyed by UVC radiation. With the emergence of UVC LEDs, the question of the relevance of using this technology to stop the current epidemic arises.”

Flir Systems has launched the Elara FR-345-EST, a fixed-mount radiometric thermal security camera that measures elevated skin temperature (EST) accurately without contact or the need for a reference temperature source.

This system provides a safe and effective environment at locations such as high-traffic airports, stadiums, commercial buildings, and factories to quickly asses skin temperature at access control points.

The Elara FR-345-EST automatically focuses on the part of the body that most closely correlates to core body temperature: the inner-canthus — or the inner eye of a human face — without sacrificing accuracy or the ability to maintain social distancing guidelines.

The camera can serve as a stand-alone system or as part of a broader access control program designed to improve people flow for elevated skin temperature screening while simultaneously improving the accuracy of finding the targets, balancing the needs of personal safety and convenience. It also integrates with a variety of third-party video management systems (VMS), including Flir United VMS.

Through the use of integrated algorithms and a convolutional neural network, as individuals pass through the screening process the interactive on-screen prompts assist with eyewear identification, proper pose, positioning, and head orientation. This enables the camera’s on-edge artificial intelligence to automatically locate and measure the temperature at the inner canthus with an accuracy of +/- 0.5°C (+/- 0.9°F).

Optatec postponed until May 2022; replaced with Optatec-Virtual online exhibition

The next Optatec international trade fair for optical technologies has been postponed due to the pandemic. Instead of as originally scheduled to take place in November 2020, the meeting will next be held at its usual trade fair venue in Frankfurt Messe, Germany, between 17th-19th May, 2022.

“All of the prerequisites would have been fulfilled for the optical technologies industry to get together for its traditional trade fair meet in Frankfurt this November,” commented Bettina Schall, managing director Optatec organizer of P. E. Schall.

“During the past few months, all of the necessary corona-related conditions had been adapted in cooperation with all involved parties in such a way that a successful Optatec 2020 could have taken place. And the hygiene and safety concepts had been finalized. However, the decision to postpone trade fair has been prompted by the recent infection incidence trends.

“Conscientiousness, farsightedness and consideration for others demand postponement of the on-site event,” said Ms. Schall.

In the meantime, Optatec-Virtual has been established as a digital trade fair platform. P. E. Schall has created “a meeting place for suppliers and users from the optics industry with a digital marketplace.”

Here, exhibitors are presenting highlights and product innovations including optical components, optomechanics, optoelectronics, laser components and production systems in “digital showrooms”.

Visitors to the virtual trade fair can select any desired information with the help of the thematically focused search engine, or collect relevant, targeted matches for their business needs by entering keywords. The hit list is functional and makes it possible for visitors to send individualized problem-solving RFQs to the exhibitors.

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