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Lightsaber for coronavirus: This Israeli company launches an AI lighting system that ‘inactivates’ COVID-19 virus

We all know that the whole world is constantly trying to figure out how to keep safe in this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and hoping at some point, the virus will be defeated.

According to WHO, as of October 2, 2020, 42 COVID-19 candidate vaccines were in the clinical evaluation of which 10 were in Phase III trials. There are another 151 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation.

However, there’s still uncertainty despite all these efforts, as the mass vaccination of billions of people is not an easy endeavour and may take 12-18 months to reach the masses. However, people are also hoping for an efficient way to curb the spread of the virus.

In a recent development, an Israel-based smart city lighting solutions company, Juganu, has officially launched its first-of-its-kind circadian lighting system, J.Protect – an AI-driven light technology that inactivates SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19.

Light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID era.

The company claims that the product can disinfect surfaces and deactivate pathogens in an attempt to provide buildings with new safety technologies that can prevent the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

As per the company, the system uses a combination of high-quality surface light mixed with ultraviolet light A (UV-A) and C (UV-C) to inactivate bacteria and viruses – including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Eran Ben-Shmuel, CEO and co-founder of Juganu feels, “Smart lighting will be one of the biggest areas of opportunity for physical spaces. We are evolving from lights simply illuminating spaces to disinfecting and securing them, as well as promoting well-being by recreating natural light shifts based on sunrise and sunset. With J.Protect, we hope to be the light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID era.”

The system can be installed in a variety of public places, including hospitals and health facilities, retail stores, banks, restaurants, airports, gyms, schools, and office spaces.

The features
  1. It can be installed without rewiring or structural changes and operated with a ‘plug and play’ interface – that can be operated via a mobile app
  2. J.Protect’s overhead luminaire can be installed for indoor public spaces, delivering high-quality, natural lighting that mimics the effect of natural light
  3. The system maximises the uniformity and effectiveness of indoor space illumination and protectiveness by providing the space coverage, even reaching walls and shadowed areas
How J.Protect works

J.Protect blends various colors from across the visible spectrum and UV-A to inactivate bacteria and viruses. The two disinfection modes include:

  1. Allegro: A continuous mode that uses the safest part of the light spectrum range, making its light effective without duration limitation and safe while people are present
  2. Presto: With the addition of UV-C, an accelerated mode that disinfects an area within minutes once cleared of people, providing maximum efficiency across the germicidal spectrum

For example, when people are present in a room, the company’s system uses UVA light which can render viruses inert after eight hours of exposure. And, if the room is empty, the lighting system will use UVC light, which is more potent as a disinfectant and more harmful to people, to disinfect a room in less than an hour.

The validation

The technology has been clinically validated through a study conducted by Dr. Gal Tanamy at the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine, and Juganu has successfully completed a pilot in Israel’s Rabin Medical Center, with another about to begin in Europe.

According to the company, it is already seeing global demand across the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Besides, the company has already established strategic partnerships with Qualcomm, NCR Corporation, and others to deploy the J.Protect solution. J.Protect is EPA-registered in 47 US states.

Dr. Tomer Avni of Beilinson Hospital says, “Keeping hospitals and other health facilities clean is a critical patient safety issue, especially during a pandemic. We implemented J.Protect in an inpatient room in the Beilinson Hospital to test its effectiveness at inactivating bacteria, mold and yeast present, and were so impressed with the results that we’ve decided to install J.Protect throughout an entire ward in the hospital.”

About Juganu

Founded in 2011 by Eran Ben-Shmuel and Alexander Bilchinsky, Juganu’s aim is to create a safer, more connected world through its light platform.

It usually works with companies implementing smart city projects and its revenue streams consist of two components: (a) income from implementing the project and (b) subscriptions dependent on the number of features that the customer uses.

Juganu is backed by investors such as Comcast Ventures, Amdocs, and Viola Growth, among others. It holds 43 patents and manufactures unique LED using Planar technology – as claimed by the company, the richest light source other than natural light.

The startup has offices in Israel, Brazil, Mexico, and the US (New York).

Previous fundings

Earlier in April this year, the company had raised $18M (approx €15.4M) in a fresh round of funding led by Comcast Ventures and with the participation of previous investors Viola Growth Fund and Amdocs Ltd. The financing was closed at the start of the global crisis.

Prior to that, in July 2019, Juganu had secured a $23M (approx €19.7M) in funding led by Viola Growth and with the participation of OurCrowd and a Mexican investment fund.