The IAA mobility fair, which has just closed in Munich (Germany), was full of urban mobility solutions, but also health and well-being, especially in this period of the Covid-19 pandemic. The stand of the French supplier Valeo, dedicated to its many innovations related to vehicles, was part of this trend, and included a somewhat special terminal that caught our attention.
Developed jointly with various health organizations such as the University Hospital of Liège (Belgium), the mobile Covid detection centers installed at the Ecole Polytechnique and the AP-HP Henri Mondor de Créteil, this terminal can detect 94 % of cases positive for Covid-19 in less than two minutes, according to Pascale Herman, the innovation manager of Valeo’s thermal systems department. It is certainly less reliable than a PCR test (100%), but still better than an antigen test (85%). And it helps to avoid the inconvenience of the nasal swab.
The kiosk is very easy to use. The author of these lines is invited to serve as a guinea pig, knowing that the data will remain confidential, we are assured. We sit on the seat facing a screen, framed by three cameras, including a thermal. The machine starts the diagnosis with a few questions about our state of health (cough, sore throat, runny nose). Then we see our face appear on the screen partly in the form of a thermal image, with a multitude of dots (RGB camera). A sensor measures our temperature, pulse and breathing rate. The system is able to determine the person’s sex and age. Less than two minutes later, the verdict falls: no Covid and a degree of emergency evaluated at 3 on a scale of 1 to 5. Degrees 1 and 2 require immediate treatment.
In the event that we had tested positive, Valeo would have immediately directed us to one of the anti-Covid points present in and around the show.
This immediate diagnosis makes all the interest of this machine which can be deployed in hospitals, but also in stations, airports, restaurants, concert halls … All that remains is to wait for an approval from the health services of here the end of the year. The price of the machine was not communicated – Valeo mentioned the possibility of a monthly subscription. Several hospitals would be strongly interested.
To develop its terminal, which will eventually be miniaturized, Valeo relied on its experience as an automotive supplier. The French reused the various anti-allergen and antibacterial filters already in use in vehicles, as well as thermal cameras and radars (Lidar) to which he added algorithms used to feed artificial intelligence (AI). It also used its UV Purifier deployed in 2020 in the world of public transport, particularly in buses and coaches. It is an ultraviolet ray air purifier that sucks the ambient air in the passenger compartment, treats it by eliminating 95% of viruses (Covid-19, bacteria and mold) and diffuses it back into the bus. Such a filter is capable of cleaning up to 4 m².
This filter certified by the University Hospital of Frankfurt and by the German Institute of Laser Technologies in Medicine and Metrology (ILM) of the University of Ulm equips “2,000 vehicles at around fifty customers, vehicle manufacturers and transport operators around the world“.
The group is not at its first attempt. At the start of the Covid crisis, it joined forces with the late PSA (which has since become Stellantis), Schneider Electric and Air Liquide for the manufacture of protective visors and artificial respirators. So Valeo, a new player in health? In any case, this is the wish of Geoffroy Bouquot, director of strategy and R&D. In an interview with Challenges last March, he said he was thinking about “innovation beyond the automotive industry“always with the same objective: to be in”the first patent applicants in FranceAs such, the equipment manufacturer spends nearly 2 billion euros each year on R&D. (Source Challenges)
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