IIT Bombay team creates and supplies 15,000 face masks to frontline workers

Mumbai: Within 3 days of the lock-down announced by Prime Minister Modi, the Ignition Lab team of IIT Bombay created a DIY (do-it-yourself) mask using locally available material like bed sheets and sewing machines. The first batch of 150 masks were provided to faculty, office staff and workers who were unable to procure them from medical shops due to immediate shortage.

“We standardized the process of mask making, and our team has created DIY videos in nine languages” said Prof. Kumaresan, who is coordinating the project. He heads the Ignition Lab, which is part of Desai Sethi School of Entrepreneurship, and has facilities for students to develop basic as well as advanced proof-of-concepts.

With rapidly increasing demand for the masks, the IIT team approached Ecostyle, a local garment company to scale up the production. The company not only agreed to make the masks, but also supplied one thousand pieces free of cost. The joint team coordinated the supply chain and distributed nearly 2000 masks to IIT security, IIT Hospital, campus residents and local shop-keepers. They also supplied 500 masks to police personnel in Sakinaka and other stations, 500 to KEM hospital, and 12,000 to other front-line workers through local NGO volunteers.

Jaya Chakravarthy, founder of Ecostyle, said “We are happy to contribute to this mission. Our tailors were anyway staying back in the factory itself, and this has given them something meaningful to do in the current situation.”

Prof. Kumaresan along with researchers in the Bioscience department and BETIC Lab are also developing several other solutions. These include mask sterilizer using ultra-violet light, face shields as part of PPE (personal protection equipment), bed veil around patient beds and aerosol box to disinfect doctors examining the patients.

Many alumni of Desai Sethi School of Entrepreneurship who incubated their own start-ups are joining hands to develop other novel solutions. For example, Faclon Labs and Augle AI are creating software tools for detection, tracking and localization of patients even in densely populated areas. JanYu Technologies is developing a robotic smart trolley. Adapt Ideations team is developing a Cloud-based connectivity platform and monitoring solutions for real-time logistics and delivery. These technological weapons promise to make the battle a little easier for the front-line warriors of COVID pandemic.