Sensors for Airborne COVID in Buildings

 Highly Advanced Sensors to Warn of COVID in the Air





                                                            Source:  COVID-19 stock image


US Defense Dept.'s DARPA Push

The US Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA plans to build a series of prototype detectors capable of spotting the COVID virus in the air.  The devices are targeted for use in office buildings and schools.  The sensors would quickly and accurately detect the presence of the virus in the air in order to alert occupants and prevent the spread.

Rising COVID Toll

Experts have warned that the virus is airborne.  More than 52 million people worldwide have been infected and more than 1 million have died.  Both Europe and the US are experiencing a second wave of the pandemic with cases rapidly accelerating.  But there is hope in the form of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the emerging Moderna vaccine.  Now, DARPA is moving on airborne detectors.

Highly Advanced Technology

Highly advanced sensor technology needs to be developed to detect COVID moving through and mixing with complex indoor environments.  Currently, indoor COVID detection takes days with air samples being sent to labs for analysis.

18 Month Agenda

The DARPA program is called SENSARS.  It's focused on fast detection in three primary environments:

  • 50 cubic meter offices
  • 300 cubic meter classrooms and conference rooms
  • Central monitoring of HVAC systems in buildings up to 10 stories
DARPA expects to have three working prototype devices within 18 months.

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