A front-liner tries out one of the Sample Collection Booths deployed in UP PGH.

In support to the Department of Health’s (DOH) efforts to conduct mass testing in the country, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will mass produce Sample Collection Booths (SCBs) as it passes validation tests from four hospitals.

Designed and fabricated by DOST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) Startup Grant awardee Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise, Inc. (FAME), the SCBs passed initial performance assessment conducted at the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital.

Jointly supported by DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), FAME’s SCBs are inspired by the telephone booth-style coronavirus testing stations in other Asian countries. 

The SCBs are compact, with good ventilation, easy to mobilize, can remotely monitor the patient’s temperature and is a good protective barrier between the frontliner and the suspected COVID-19 patient. It has window-mounted nitrile gloves that are disinfected for five minutes after every patient to protect them from others getting tested. Other current designs from different sources were also considered in the selection of the final design for the SCB considering safety for both tester and patient, mobility of the unit and compactness of the design for ease of deployment.

Testing will be conducted by seating each patient outside the booth while the medical professional collects their samples by swabbing their nose and throat using arm-length nitrile gloves built into the front window of the booth. Then, the sample will be taken to the accredited laboratories for diagnostic purposes.

Used gloves and other hazardous waste are properly disposed in hazardous waste bins.

The SCBs will be delivered to the DOH identified testing locations by April 30 which around the country.

DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara lauded FAME for stepping up to the plate and immediately responding to the need for SCBs in the country.

“As we continue to make change happen in the Philippines through research and development, we are optimistic that these SCBs will tip the scales in our fight against COVID-19, giving us a faster way to identify and isolate patients,” she said.

DOST PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit acknowledged FAME’s innovative approach in helping frontliners in battling COVID-19 in the country. FAME was a DOST-PCIEERD Startup Grant Awardee for its low-cost transponders developed for small boats with fisherfolks in mind.

“FAME upped the ante in our fight against COVID-19.  As a leader and partner in enabling research, innovations and development in the country, we will continue to support innovators who, do not only push technological boundaries but also respond to pressing challenges in the Philippines,” he said.

DOST PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya stressed the importance of protecting the frontline workers in our country’s fight against COVID-19. He said, “In this fight, our heroes are the frontline workers. Through this project, we are providing a new level of protection for our health workers whose health may be at risk due to shortages in PPEs. Likewise, this SCB is an inspiring method to support our goal of mass testing.”
Photos of actual deployment of Rapidpass (photo credits: Rapidpass Facebook Page)

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), DEVCONNECT Philippines, Inc. (DEVCON), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the Joint Task Force COVID Shield (JTF) are collaborating  in the implementation of RapidPass, the technology that provides easier access in Metro Manila’s quarantine checkpoints for frontliners in the fight against COVID-19.

DEVCON developed the RapidPass in response to the request of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) for innovations to decongest traffic at the Quarantine Control Points (QCPs).

DOST chairs the RapidPass Coordination Group, DICT leads the Technical Working Group, and the JTF, led by Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, takes point in the deployment at the QCPs.

Altogether, it took DOST, DEVCON, DICT, and the PNP- JTF to manage the deployment and operations of the RapidPass, augmenting the efforts of government to ensure the fast and easy passage of frontliners and essential goods during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

RapidPass is a QR based system that hastens the movement of Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) and their vehicles through QCPs.

Developed by DEVCON, PNP personnel in QCPs can easily check its bearers if they are allowed to pass.

Both the origin and destination of the APOR is indicated in the encryption of the RapidPass QR code.

DEVCON Founder Winston Damarillo expressed gratitude to the government for the opportunity to work hand in hand in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We welcome the challenge and appreciate the opportunity to serve alongside our government.  We are looking forward to seeing our technology put into action to enable efficient travel for our frontliners and safer administration of our checkpoint officers,” he said.

DEVCON, a volunteer organization that promotes collaborative growth and global competence of Filipino developers, is led by Amihan Global Strategies and Talino Venture Labs Chief Executive Officer Winston Damarillo. 

Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, commander of the JTF COVID Shield said, “It is an effective tool since only the skeletal force of exempted establishments will be considered as APOR, unlike with the company IDs that could include even those who are not members of the

reduced workforce. This system will be implemented even BEYOND ECQ PERIOD as this will play an important role in effectively enforcing modified community quarantine. This system will be implemented in QCPs (Quarantine Control Points) exclusively for NON-CARGO VEHICLES. All NON-CARGO VEHICLES shall be flagged down in QCPs to: scan QR Code/s, check social distancing, and take the temperature of the occupant/s.  “

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Pena disclosed that as of date, there are 16,000 approved users of the RapidPass in 48 QCPs of NCR.

“We would like to thank the DEVCON volunteers for coming up with this innovative solution which has eased the burden for our personnel in quarantine checkpoints and we would like to thank our partners, DICT, PNP, and DOST-NCR for working together in deploying RapidPass, and we thank our partners from the private sector, PLDT and SM, for donating phones to be used by PNP personnel at QCPs and bandwidth for the operation of RapidPass” he said.

Prototype drone carrying an AI-powered thermal scanner

Harnessing the power of technology to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) unveiled six technologies that are currently being developed by Filipino innovators.

Ranging from nano-enhanced sanitizers to mobile AI-powered thermal scanners, these technologies are DOST’s quick response to the ongoing pandemic that has endangered the lives of many.

DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara lauded the Filipino researchers who came up with these timely innovations.

“We thank our Filipino researchers for making change happen through these technologies that we are working on.  We hope to see them soonest in the hands of our frontliners and the general public who is greatly affected by COVID19,” she said.

PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico C. Paringit expressed support to Filipino researchers who will be generating these technologies, hailing their immediate response to the need.

“As leader and partner in enabling innovations in the country, DOST-PCIEERD will guide our researchers in providing solutions to the challenges on hand.  We will maximize the use of our technologies to support our frontliners and help in our fight against COVID19,” he said.

The six technologies that are now being developed are:

1. Mobile AI-enabled Thermal Scanners - In partnership with Orbital Exploration (OrbitX) Technologies, six (6) artificial-intelligence-powered thermal scanners mounted on drones will be produced initially to easily scan and pinpoint people with high body temperature. These drones provide real-time data transmission, are equipped with GPS, and has a 2-km range for communication. This technology will shorten the queuing of people and minimize contact between individuals in checkpoints. Initially, six (6) units will be produced for testing and deployment in selected local government units (LGUs).

2. Nanotechnology-enhanced Sanitizers - The Central Luzon State University (CLSU) Nanotech Laboratory produced a nanotechnology-enhanced ethyl alcohol and hand sanitizer that contains zinc oxide nanoparticles infused with turmeric extract, a mixture proven that is effective against H1N1 influenza and SARS viruses—which are both coronaviruses. Thus, applying such to surfaces could be effective in deterring the spread of COVID-19. The laboratory is also developing washable mask using nanofiber as a 'filter.’

3. 3D-printed face shields - The Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCEN) and the Additive Manufacturing Research Laboratory (AMREL) of the Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU) are currently producing 3D-printed face shields for health workers.
4. Reusable face masks – The Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) is working on the production of 500,000 reusable and washable (RW) face masks for up to 50 times.
5.Big Data Analytics for Quarantine Policies - The De La Salle University (DLSU) is currently pursuing big data analytics and transportation network analysis to support traffic management during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period. The simulation results showed relative intensities of incoming traffic to Metro Manila at various entry points. This will be of use for those managing the checkpoints (PNP and AFP) in the periphery of Metro Manila.
6. Pinoy Animation Laban sa COVID19 - In coordination with the Toon City Academy (TCA) six (6) infomercials on several COVID-19 infographics for public health awareness will be produced. Four now are already being aired in mainstream and social media and two more will be aired soon.  Topics covered include proper hygiene, community quarantine, social distrancing and proper verification of information. TCA has ongoing Project on Original Content Development and will tap the graduates of the animation training from Dagupan City to produce the material.


RAPPID-ADMATEC produced face shields for COVID-19 frontliners

To support frontline health workers in their battle to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is currently producing 3D-printed face shield frames for distribution to the Philippine General Hospital, and will be extended to other hospitals.

Operating for 24 hours since March 23, the team of Engr. Fred P. Liza, project leader of the Research on Advanced Prototyping for Product Innovation and Development using Additive Manufacturing Technologies (RAPPID-ADMATEC), started printing frames with an initial target of 1000 pieces for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

“We are humbled by the opportunity to help in the urgent need of face shields, to cease the spread of this contagious disease. It will protect the face whenever a patient coughs or sneezes. Currently, we can print 10 frames every 1.5 hours,” says Engr. Liza.

The design for the 3D-printed frames will be optimized for further reduction of time during the production process.

3D printing of RAPPID-ADMATEC face shield frames for use of health workers

“Currently, we are looking for ways to hasten production, such as using a larger nozzle size and modifying our printing parameters. Additional 3D printers are being reconfigured to augment our production volume. We are also looking into fabricating molds through DOST – Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) and our technology partner, particularly Omnifab, for faster production of these frames using injection molding. Our goal is to deliver to the Philippine General Hospital every week via courier service,” he added.

RAPPID-ADMATEC is one of the projects under Advanced Additive Manufacturing R&D Program (AMCen), being supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and is monitored by DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD). It focuses on advanced prototyping and speeds up its process by reducing the time it takes to fabricate components and products.

Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara lauded the group for going the extra mile and contributing to the needs of our frontliners in battling COVID-19. 

"As we make change happen through research and development, we maximize our assets to do our part in fighting COVID-19 with innovative solutions. We support our health workers with these visor shields that are products of our R&D facility," she said. 

DOST-PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico C. Paringit commended the group for their dedication during the enhanced community quarantine period. 

“As strong believer and willing partner in enabling innovation, we will continue to support endeavors like this to meet the urgent needs of the public especially during this outbreak,” he said.
Ribbon Cutting of LCFMNN led by PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, In-coming USC President Fr. Narciso A. Cellan, Jr., SVD, D. Comm., and Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara

On Tuesday (March 10), the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and the University of San Carlos (USC) unveiled the “USC Laboratory of Computational Functional Materials, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (LCFMNN)”, the first computational science laboratory in Visayas.

The 36.49 square meter lab will house research facilities and workstations with high-performance computers capable of processing massive parallel and large-scale simulations for researches on nanotechnology, nanoscience, and materials science.

“The lab will enable researchers in the Visayan Peninsula to fortify and be guided in their research plans on photovoltaics and other energy-harvesting devices before the actual costly material experimentation, synthesis, and device fabrication process,” said Dr. Felixberto Buot, LCFMNN project leader.

Through these facilities, USC students and other researchers can be easily trained and continuously mentored on computational techniques and tools for materials development research. With that, the lab is envisioned to become a venue for solidifying the academe-industry research network for materials computation and development.

“In advanced countries, scientific computing has become an important solution for research problems in energy harvesting, energy conversion, and energy storage devices, because it allows researchers to do simulations instead of actual experiments that are somehow impossible to do using traditional approaches, or hazardous and too expensive to be conducted in the laboratory,” added Buot.

LCFMNN is a research facility that houses high-performance computers capable of processing massive parallel and large-scale simulations for researches on nanotechnology, nanoscience, and materials science.

The cutting-edge lab was established through the Institution Development Program (IDP) of DOST-PCIEERD, one of DOST’s sectoral planning councils. The IDP strengthens research and development capabilities of institutions by providing financial assistance for the establishment or upgrading of laboratories and research institutions.

“Computational modeling and simulation now play a significant role in the advancement of science, allowing researchers to easily find solutions to complex scientific problems. DOST-PCIEERD fully believes that the LCFMNN can take the Philippines at the forefront of software engineering and development, visualization science, computational materials science, energy-harvesting device R&D, and big data analytics,” said DOST-PCIEERD executive director Dr. Enrico Paringit.