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3D-printed medical valves are helping the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy

(TECH NEWS) 3D printing came to the rescue in Brescia while the COVID-19 began to take affect. 3 companies banded together to recreate life saving medical valves.

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Advancements in 3D printing have blown my mind. If you can draw it, they can print anything, even houses. Who knew 3D printing would become a contributor in the fight against COVID-19. This global pandemic has sent people around the world into hiding, AKA social distancing.

Three Italian 3D printing companies have come together to make valves for a specific ventilator, the Venturi Oxygen Mask. Their quick actions have helped save lives in Italy. If more companies like theirs come together in this effort, more lives will no doubt be saved.

We are behind the curve in flattening the coronavirus curve in the U.S., like Italy was a month ago. We’ve learned what an unsustainable situation this is, because the hospitals and clinics cannot keep up with testing and treatment. The rate of community spread in northern Italy and the number of critical cases quickly surpassed the availability of necessary, life-saving equipment–specifically a ventilator valve.

These valves are vital to running the Venturi Oxygen Masks. Patients who’d lost the ability to breathe for themselves in the late stages of COVID-19 infection need these masks or similar devices to survive. In an unfortunate twist, the supply chain for the valves originated in factories that COVID-19 had shut down for weeks prior to the crisis reaching northern Italy.

By last week, northern Italian city, Brescia, had been overrun by critical care patients by last Friday, March 13. ICUs overflowed with patients in dire need. The shortage of valves likely meant more deaths that could have been prevented. According to reports, one fast-thinking journalist, Nunzia Vallini, editor of the Giornale di Brescia, realized this.

Vallini reached out to Massimo Temporelli, founder of FabLab in Milan, asking if FabLab could replicate the valve through 3D printing. help respond to the shortage of valves. Temporelli in turn reached out to founder Cristian Fracassi of 3D printing company Isinnova, in Brescia itself.

Despite Venturi allegedly refusing to share the valve design, Fracassi set up his 3D printer at the hospital and soon had reverse engineered the essential valve. When they tested it and realized it would work, Fracassi and Isinnova set to work making valves. They also reached out to another Italian 3D printing company, Lonati, who also pitched in to produce more valves.

The three Italian companies have given these valves to the hospitals in the effort to fight the virus and save lives. None of them have the legal right to sell the valves, which are protected under copyright and patent law. However, in an urgent situation such as the one in Brescia, the hospital and the 3D printing companies have the right to create these parts to meet the desperate need.

Now that these Italian 3D printing companies have joined forces in the fight against the nasty COVID-19, one can only hope that more innovation will come from this meeting of minds. Worldwide, the mantra is becoming “Do whatever it takes” to slow down, and eventually stop the rapid, deadly trajectory of the novel coronavirus of 2019.

I thought printing tiny homes for the homeless, like Austin company ICON is doing, would be the pinnacle of 3D printing. I was wrong. I’m eager to see where this new path of 3D printing takes us. What a wonderful, terrible time to be alive.

Hopefully Venturi will step up and make the original design available to other 3D printing companies. COVID-19 won’t wait. I’m grateful to these super smart humans designing medical equipment and 3D printers, to Nunzia Vallini, and to the healthcare professionals who are in the trenches. They give us hope and inspiration.

Joleen Jernigan is an ever-curious writer, grammar nerd, and social media strategist with a background in training, education, and educational publishing. A native Texan, Joleen has traveled extensively, worked in six countries, and holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. She lives in Austin and constantly seeks out the best the city has to offer.

Tech News

A look into why AI couldn’t save the world from COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, but we just don’t have the data yet. So perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet.

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Even in the best of times, the human race can hardly be defined by our patience in the face of uncertainty. COVID-19 has rocked our feelings of safety and security. Hospitals have struggled to keep up with demand for care, and researchers are working tirelessly to create a vaccine. Early on in the fight against this virus, some looked to artificial intelligence technology to lead the pack in finding a solution to the global health crisis, but science takes time and AI is no different.

Over two months ago, when COVID-19 was still most prevalent in China, researchers were already attempting to use AI to fight the virus’ spread. As Wired reports, researchers in Wuhan, China attempted to screen for COVID-19 by programming an AI to analyze chest CTs of patients with pneumonia.

The AI would then decipher if the patient’s pneumonia stemmed from COVID-19 or something less insidious. This plan failed for the same reason many pursuits do – a lack of time and data to pull it off.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization examined the lung CT tool, but it was deemed unfit for widespread use. The lung CT tool, and all other AI driven projects, are limited by the humans designing and operating them.

We have struggled to collect and synthesize data in relation to COVID-19, and as a result tools, like the lung CT scans, cannot hope to succeed. AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, so perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet. Our tenacity and optimism continue to drive AI forward, but progress can only be sped up so much.

Like all science, AI has its limitations, and we cannot expect it to be a miracle cure for all our problems. It requires data, experimentation, and testing just like any other scientific pursuit. There are many problems to unlock before AI can be a leader in the driving force for positive change, but its shortcomings do not outweigh its potential. AI couldn’t save us from COVID-19, but as researchers continue to learn from this global event, AI may still save us in the future.

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Tech News

Chrome can now group and color code your open tabs

(TECH NEWS) Do you have too many tabs, and can’t tell what’s what? Google has tab groups that make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

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Are you a tab collector? That’s Google’s name for people who have tabs upon tabs upon tabs open on their Google Chrome browser. And while third party apps are already available to help collectors manage tabs, Google is now stepping in with Tab Groups.

Tab Groups, try it here, allows users to color-code, group and add text or emoji labels to separate clusters of tabs in their browser.

Right-click on any tab and choose Add to New Group. A gray dot will appear to the left of the tab and outline it in the same color. Clicking on the dot lets users update the color, label and name the group. Once grouped together, the tab groups can be moved and reordered. They’re also saved when Chrome is closed and reopened.

Google said after testing Tab Groups for months, they noticed people usually arranged their tabs by topic and that appeared most common when people shopped or were working on a project.
“Others have been grouping their tabs by how urgent they are, “ASAP,” “this week” and “later.” Similarly, tab groups can help keep track of your progress on certain tasks: “haven’t started,” “in progress,” “need to follow up” and “completed.”

Of course, this new feature does nothing to dissuade users from opening too many tabs, despite research that says multitasking may change the structure of your brain and Chrome is notorious for using too much RAM. So now you can’t concentrate, and your computer is running hot and slowing down.

A solution? Use Chrome extensions such as The Great Suspender, which suspends tabs that have been inactive for a specific amount of time. Don’t worry, you can whitelist specific websites so if you always need a tab for Twitter open, it won’t be suspended.

Another tip is to focus on one task at a time using the Pomodoro Technique, breaking tasks and your workday into 25-minute bursts of productivity with five-minute breaks in between. FocusMe uses a timer and website blocker to reduce the risk of getting distracted. You’re on the internet, after all.

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Tech News

Quarantine bod got you down? AI trainer Artifit lifts you up

(TECH NEWS) If staying home has caused some unfortunate weight gain, Artifit can help you keep your home body fit during and way after quarantine is over.

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Mandatory lockdown’s have changed people’s routine’s in every conceivable way. From the way we work and cook to how we exercise. Home workout routines have been a hot topic in the last couple of months. People are trying to find a way to retain some sense of normalcy and maintain their healthy lifestyles We’ve all heard jokes about the so called “Quarantine 15” online and maybe you’ve even made a disparaging comment or two about your weight since gyms closed.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with a little weight gain the face of a global pandemic. The world is changing, your life is changing, and times are scary. Be gentle with yourself and those around you.

If you are looking for a way to get regular workouts back into your life and YouTube videos just aren’t cutting it, there is a high-tech solution. Artifit is an AI personal trainer designed to make your solo workouts safer and more effective. The app acts as your personal trainer by creating your workout plans, tracking progress, and providing posture corrections.

The app uses your phone’s camera to track your reps and spot errors in form while providing real time audio feedback. According to the app creators, [Artifit] recognizes 20 major joints movements via mobile camera, and we are constantly working on adding new joints and improving the algorithm.”

Beyond the workouts, Artifit taps into your competitive side by providing you with a score at the end of each work out that you can then share with friends. The app measures and analyze your progress over time and uses this data to create a workout plan that is best suited for you.

There are a ton of reasons you might be looking for a tech-driven approach to your workout routine. Most of us already rely on technology to track out movement in one way or another – think about the Health app on your phone or your Fitbit. Working out from home isn’t for everyone, but some are thriving under a more flexible schedule and want to keep it that way.

If you are not sure when you’re going to feel comfortable going to the gym again or you no longer want to fuss over scheduling appointments with a personal trainer, this could be the app for you. Artifit can help you keep your homebody tendencies intact way after quarantine is over.

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