Science

LiFi technology to monitor Covid-19 patients

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on April 08, 2020

Start-up Nav Wireless says its solution transmits info remotely, reducing risk to doctors and nurses

In the fight against Covid-19, a city-based innovator has come up with a LiFi (Light Fidelity) technology-based communication solution — believed to be a first of its kind globally — for hospitals handling coronavirus patients.

Nav Wireless Technology Pvt Ltd adopts LiFi technology to transmit crucial patient data, such as ventilator reading, temperature, etc, using a wireless data transfer through LED lights. It is seen as a big breakthrough for medical teams who get exposed — even with protective gear — because of repeated visits to monitor patients.

1,200 installations initially

The company has received clearance from Ahmedabad’s Civil Hospital to cover 1,200 beds that are earmarked exclusively for Covid-19 cases. The device is a plug-n-play LED light with a LiFi-enabled chip inside it and a USB dongle that can be connected to a machine.

“It uses light as a medium to transmit and receive information. With this technology, we try to reduce risk for doctors and medical teams. They keep monitoring key parameters of ventilators and other medical instruments at regular intervals because of which they get exposed to patients frequently. With this technology they don’t need not visit the patient so frequently. It minimises the risk of spread of the virus to doctors and nurses,” Hardik Soni, Co-founder & CTO, Nav Wireless Technology, told BusinessLine.

LiFi technology is considered safer and greener compared to the existing modes of WiFi communication, telecom tower-based communication or LAN network. Due to the risk involved with radio-magnetic waves through the existing technologies, they are often not used in critical areas or ICUs. No WiFi or mobile phones are allowed near Covid-19 patients, thereby making remote monitoring of the patients almost impossible.

“We don’t use any radio signal or electro-magnetic waves to transmit the data,” explains Soni. The medical equipment transmits the data and the light receives it, and the reverse also is possible. All the patient data generated is secure as no one can get inside the network, unlike the risk in a WiFi network.

How the device works

Apart from data information, the device will also provide communication support for patients to remotely connect with their relatives as well as for nurses with the doctors.

“There are patients who may want to connect with their relatives in this critical time for motivation. Since mobiles aren’t allowed, , we have created a network for Covid patients to communicate using LiFi technology without any physical network. Relatives can speak to patients sitting at a distance of about 300 metres within the hospital premises. Similar infrastructure will be available at the other end too,” he says.

For doctors and medical teams, there is a VOIP-like communication through LiFi. Nursing staff can connect with an outside doctor giving an update on the patient status. Currently, the nursing staff rush out and dial the doctor. But with a mic installed beside the bed, they can transmit the information directly to the concerned doctor team immediately. “We have configured the system in such a way that the mic at each bed is connected to the designated medical team or department. So when a nurse transmits a message, it reaches the concerned team directly,” says Soni.

Tests have been conducted successfully and 1,200 installations are likely to begin from next week and will be completed within three days.

“We are currently getting all the hardware ready. There are some difficulties due to logistics and manufacturing of important parts such as PCBs. Now that we have the order from Civil Hospital, we can ask OEMs to start factories. We are sourcing everything locally so everything is made in India,” says Soni. He adds that the entire project is part of the company’s CSR and hence it will not charge the hospital.

“We are also open to help other hospitals in other States replicate this technology to minimise the risk,” he says.

Published on April 08, 2020

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