Innovative Technologies for Reducing the Spread of Contagious Diseases

J.P. McIntire, F. Harlow, E. May
U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory,
United States

Keywords: contagious disease, contactless technology, social distancing, contact tracing, health innovation


We describe a series of design innovation projects conducted by student teams at the University of Colorado at Denver in collaboration with scientists at the US Air Force Research Lab. The COVID-19 pandemic has made apparent the risks of disease transmission through multiple vectors in public spaces that could potentially benefit from further protection and safety measures. Utilizing formal ideation and innovation methods, the teams studied what specific problems to solve, explored potential solution ideas, and developed some early-concept prototypes for feasibility demonstration. The teams primarily focused on minimizing the risk of disease transmission through reducing the physical touching of common public items; additional solutions relating to contact tracing and social distancing were also explored. Initial functional prototypes were developed and demonstrated for: (a) touchless elevator control systems using voice commands, foot pedals, gestures, and touchless buttons; (b) an automated desk usage hygienic management system; (c) an automated remote video person tracker for monitoring compliance with indoor social distancing and room capacity limits; and (d) a contact tracing & proximity tracking app. These prototypes showed innovative proof-of-concepts for combatting the spread of disease and ensuring overall public health, safety, and security.