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Covid 19 update: 03 December 2020

03 Dec 2020

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

Sensor developer ams has been awarded funding by the Austrian Government to speed the development of a cloud-connected Lateral Flow Test (LFT) to be used to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The solution is based on the ams spectral sensor AS7341L and offers results for pandemic control in around 15 minutes, for example, at points of care, at home, in airports, schools and so on. With the aim of detecting the virus at earlier stages of infection – even before symptoms have appeared, the sensor reports each LFT, matching lab-based measurement performance.

ams is participating in the European EUREKA-funded program in the fight against the pandemic; EUREKA is the world’s biggest public network for international cooperation in R&D and innovation.

The company says that current PCR testing needs expansive labs with many logistic and handling steps, adding that its technology “enables an approximate 15-minute test to enable a rapid, cost-efficient, highly-accurate, and cloud-connected LFT that uses saliva to detect antigen and blood to indicate antibodies for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

Jennifer Zhao, Executive VP, Advanced Optical Sensors at ams, commented, “The digital LFT solution from ams and our partners is a rapid, saliva-based antigen test which will become an essential critical weapon in the fight to resume the many economic and social activities that we call normal life.

“The availability of this €586,000 funding – €314,000 Cov19Scan and €273,000 AntigenSense, from the Austrian Federal Ministries for Transport, Innovation, and Technology, and for Digital and Economic Affairs – accelerates the development time to bring the lateral flow test and cloud solution to market.”

Zhao was last month named “Woman of the Year” at Questex’s Sensors Innovation Week. Alexander Everke, CEO at ams, said, “Jennifer and her team build differentiated solutions from sensors for the smart phone industry, using the same technology platform to help the world fight the Covid-19 pandemic.”

PureFize UVC source deactivates bacteria and viruses

Cleantech company LightLab Sweden is introducing a new UVC disinfection technology called PureFize, to deactivate bacteria and viruses, among them SARS-CoV-2. To test its effectiveness, the company partnered with SAES Group and the University of Siena, Italy.

The study uses a prototype of a real consumer product and shows that PureFize can be used to inactivate any SARS-CoV-2 presence (>99.9999%) on items that consumers use every day. The results are to be submitted for publication in the International Journal of Public Health.

"Good result": Lightfab's PureFize UVC technology.

“A good result was obtained to deactivate SARS-CoV-2 by the tested prototype of a real consumer product,” commented Siena’s Professor Gabriele Messina, MD, Associate Professor in General and Applied Hygiene (Public Health). “The PureFize UVC technology can play an important role in inactivating SARS-CoV-2 from objects in everyday life.”

“PureFize makes it possible to bring UVC into everyday life in a safe and sustainable way,” said Rune Torbjörnsen, CEO at LightLab Sweden. “We aim to raise the standard for UVC disinfection and show that PureFize can be effective in inactivating bacteria and viruses but also sustainable in minimizing the impact of the technology on the environment.”

A new study of face recognition technology created after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic shows that some software developers have made demonstrable progress at recognizing masked faces.

The findings, produced by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), are detailed in a new report Ongoing Face Recognition Vendor Test Part 6B: Face Recognition Accuracy with Face Masks Using Post-Covid-19 Algorithms.

It is the agency’s first study that measures the performance of face recognition algorithms developed since the outbreak of the pandemic. A previous NIST report from July, 2020, explored the effect of masked faces on algorithms submitted before March 2020, indicating that software available before the pandemic often had more trouble with masked faces.

“Some newer algorithms from developers performed significantly better than their predecessors. In some cases, error rates decreased by as much as a factor of 10 between their pre- and post-Covid algorithms,” commented NIST’s Mei Ngan, one of the study’s authors.

“In the best cases, software algorithms are making errors between 2.4 and 5% of the time on masked faces, comparable to where the technology was in 2017 on nonmasked photos.”

The new study adds the performance of 65 newly submitted algorithms to those that were tested on masked faces in the previous round, offering cumulative results for 152 total algorithms. Developers submitted algorithms to the FRVT voluntarily, but their submissions do not indicate whether an algorithm is designed to handle face masks, or whether it is used in commercial products.

Using the same set of 6.2 million images as it had previously, the team again tested the algorithms’ ability to perform “one-to-one” matching, in which a photo is compared with a different photo of the same person — a function commonly used to unlock a smart phone.

Double-Sided ID card reader meets Covid-19 hygiene recommendations

Thales has launched what it calls “the world’s only double-sided ID card reader”, which can examine ID cards or driving licenses in less than four seconds. The design of this intelligent reader simplifies the process of ID verification and offers a touchless check, an important consideration in the Covid-19 era.

The Gemalto Intelligent Double-sided ID Card Reader CR5400i enables fast, secure and remote identity document verification. The reader protects businesses (airports, casinos, hotels, stores, etc.) from fraud and forgery thanks to sophisticated mechanisms for superior document authentication.

The “i” version permits multiple intelligent readers to be centrally connected via Wi-Fi; suitable for organizations wishing to deploy a fleet of readers such as retail stores and financial institutions.

Mad City Labs, Inc.AlluxaCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.Universe Kogaku America Inc.TRIOPTICS GmbHABTechLASEROPTIK GmbH
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