Hey Reddit, If you’re concerned about COVID-19 Delta variants and their impacts, especially on developing countries, you’re not alone.

We are Ritesh and Chris, the inventors of UVisor: a project outcome of a 20k global volunteer strong non-profit organization (Helpful Engineering). Our organization was here last winter to explain how we combat social impact problems - and thanks to your support, we kept soldiering on and now are ready for more AMA.

The UVisor project started with our desire to protect our parents against Covid-19. We shared our idea with the Helpful Engineering community and assembled a team of volunteers to do things that others wouldn’t. Because it was open-source, we could share information with everyone (we could not do it if it were patented). And because it was not-for-profit, everyone pitched in at a massive scale with volunteers from over ten countries. We essentially had an R&D team of 18,000 volunteers with different skills openly sharing information and knowledge. We got government and industry to pitch in and provide resources and expertise, which would never have happened for a profit-driven project. From CERN to Berkeley Labs to Ansys to the Department of Energy, people contributed ideas, resources, and expertise, and UVisor started taking shape.

So what is UVisor? UVisor is a lightweight helmet that protects individuals from most airborne pathogens in the air around them. It is a fully integrated, compact, and lightweight positive-air-pressure visor requiring no external hoses, power, or filter units. It has a built-in battery, fan, and a concealed UV chamber that inactivates viruses and bacteria. A uVisor technology demonstrator was tested by Sandia National Laboratories and demonstrated over 99% efficacy against the MS2 surrogate virus (x10 harder to kill than SARS-2/CoVID-19). It can become a powerful protector for immunocompromised individuals, healthcare workers, and more, from COVID-19 and its variants.

UVisor is also supported by the Department of Energy, Sandia National Labs, Ansys, Emory University, Porex Filtration Group, and Stanley Electric Company. It’s 100% reusable and creates no disposable waste since it is filterless. UVisor is the winner of the International UV Association 2021 award. More importantly, it is open-source and not-for-profit, and we’d like more people to take our blueprint and manufacture it at scale to help people in need. We are the inventors of UVisor. Ask us Anything**!**


EDIT: Hey Reddit - we've been here for two and a half hours so we're calling it a wrap! We appreciate your awesome questions; in particular, those of you who chimed in kindly with empathy and constructive feedback. We've been working non-stop since March 2020, but we'll keep going!!

If you'd like to help, please feel free to

  • Share the UVisor project with organizations or individuals you think can help
  • Donate to Helpful Engineering to support UVisor development and other Open Source projects.
  • You can also volunteer and join an insane team of people who mostly have full-time jobs and are working around the clock to make the world a better place.

Comments: 511 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

iamheresorta446 karma

What kind of testing have you done and what proof do you have to show for it? Also does that account for people touching a contaminated surface and then scratching your face or rubbing your eye for example?

_peachthief141 karma

We started primarily with hand calculations on the intensity of light and then moved to optical simulations with the help of the team at Ansys. Once we were happy with the design we were lucky enough to have Sandia National Laboratories test a prototpye device for us against a surrogate virus (MS2) to prove the actual effectiveness against sterilizing viruses. In the test it sterilized 99.7% of the MS2 virus at the standard air flow rate for it. MS2 is generally accepted as more difficult to sterilize with UVC than coronavirus and Sars-Cov-2 in particular. We have a few more details here as well a request for the full report.

For touching a contaminated surface and then putting it close to your eye or such, the main protection is the face shield part of your device which makes it a bit harder to poke yourself. The CDC has generally said that it's primarily transmitted by exposure to respiratory droplets, so combined with adequate hand washing and such it should keep the risk a fair bit lower.

- Chris (Helpful - UVisor Team)

alexanderpas219 karma

Have your results been peer-reviewed and published, or will they be in the future? If not, what are the reasons for you to not do so?

meep_42166 karma

I assume everything is pseudoscience until this happens.

edit - thank you for the response, I eagerly await actual scientists to look it over, since I am not one

mapocathy100 karma

As you should. Here is the complete report from the Sandia National Laboratories (and more about Sandia National Laboratories).

_peachthief48 karma

The Sandia report is a public document I believe, and I gave a talk at the IUVA 2021 world conference. We are also working on a paper for publishing in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Devices, which we are hoping to finish in September.

- Chris (Helpful - UVisor Team)

meep_4247 karma

We are also working on a paper for publishing in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Devices


mapocathy12 karma

Thanks for the encouragement!

mapocathy12 karma

To follow up on Chris' comment, here's the link to the full report.

Jason_Worthing4 karma

You can download the public report that /u/_peachthief mentions here, but they require you to enter an email address and 'purpose' for looking at the file, which seems a little strange to me.

If this is all open source, why are you using it to collect contact information on people?

mapocathy24 karma

Jason, the link to the full report is also available here.

benjamintreuhaft51 karma

I’m Benjamin, the CEO of Helpful.

One thing everyone should know: this team moved mountains to get this design and prototype this far. I say this to acknowledge their hard work and dedication.

Many people told them “no” (mostly because of the time and expense which is required to validate a new PPE implementation with FDA; in this case, there is no previously extant Design Master File to "piggyback" off) However, through sheer determination, they managed to deliver a validated proof of concept and got both industry and government to take a hard look and offer support to the development process.

…one thing I see repeatedly in comments is criticism or concern regarding Sandia National Labs' choice of surrogate when testing the UVisor chamber.

The surrogate used in testing is generally considered x10 harder to kill than CoVID. There are multiple studies regarding the use of HN2 as a surrogate for CoVID, and there is a lot out there regarding using UVC to deactivate viral objects - but the use case is important, and FDA is very clear that the specific lamp you choose is critical, and they refer you to the manufacturer for clear guidance on whether the component is suitable for your use case and implementation.

One of the reasons this project is so interesting is that the selected components and implementation resulted in a successful proof of concept test for the sterilization chamber. At scale, they were able to deliver enough energy to the test virus for the time required for this use case.

This implementation exceeded our expectations regarding viral deactivation.

With respect to the size of the viral object - as we are not filtering it with a substrate, the object size does not matter here - only that is rendered inactive. Based on the results of the Sandia test - the chamber design does that.

It’s worth noting that testing on PPE is not generally done with the actual CoVID pathogen. Nelson Labs uses an identical surrogate to Sandia, for example.

The large $5M n95 UVC sanitizers that went into hospitals to allow reuse of PPE were similarly tested with surrogate.

Regarding UVC exposure - no UVC hits the wearer’s skin. Wearer exposure to UVC would be unacceptable, and the team along with their design and simulation partners were very conscious of this. In this design, all UVC radiation is safely contained in the chamber and does not “leak” by virtue of the visor baffle so that they do not risk user exposure to the lamp radiation.

With respect to touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face - this would not be a good idea! If you touched a heavily contaminated surface (ie a pool of fresh snot containing a high viral load of CoVID) and then removed the visor and shoved said snot up your nose - that would not be what UVisor was designed to protect against!

There are numerous UVC surface decontamination tools available on the market, and these are currently in wide usage in hospitals and nursing homes. Technically, if you exposed the aforementioned infectious snot with one of these devices (read the device instructions regarding decontamination time!) you could remove the visor and shove the decontaminated snot up your nose, without fear of CoVID infection. However, note you may then be subjecting yourself to another more sturdy pathogen the decontamination wand does not have the power to deactivate.

The above is said with humor: please absolutely do not shove another person’s snot up your nose!

mapocathy7 karma

Thanks for chiming in. Appreciate your support and perspective here.

Erkannis144 karma

How well does this unit resist fogging? As a person with glasses this has been a sore spot with most masks.

_peachthief65 karma

As it's always got air flow going past the face and pushing the air out the bottom the fogging is a lot lower than with a cloth mask and glasses. Depending on the humidity and weather there can be some fogging around the mouth area but we haven't seen it affect vision in any of our testing, so can be useful for those wearing glasses for sure.

- Chris (Helpful - UVisor Team)

Eruionmel87 karma

Uh... The demonstration video on the website starts out with her visor having a whole bunch of fog on the front. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Scipion9 karma

That's like three fingerprints, I'm sure she had to take that cover on and off more than once for the shot.

mapocathy8 karma

Thanks for chiming in so kindly.

TheMooseIsBlue7 karma

I was going to say the same. There’s very little fog there but that’s your marketing video and it shows fog. Maybe that instance was the worst case scenario but why would they use the worst case in their marketing?

mapocathy24 karma

Great question, TheMooseIsBlue. A large part of it is because we're mostly voluntary engineers, product designers, and developers, and we don't have enough marketing resources to produce the marketing materials to the level of snazziness that we agree would help with our causes. I wish we have more help.

TheMooseIsBlue13 karma

Understood. I wish you guys success and appreciate your efforts to keep people safe!

mapocathy12 karma

Appreciate your kind response and thank you for your suggestion!

farfromeverywhere3 karma

I could help you with that.

mapocathy2 karma

That’s very kind of you. I’ll be in touch!

anonymousperson767-3 karma

Switch to masks with a nose wire. If it's sealed against your nose it won't blow up into your glass lenses.

mapocathy7 karma

But what's the fun if you can't see our beautiful smiles... or more importantly, vegetables stuck in between our teeth?

seattlenate72 karma

Is the UV source broad-spectrum generating ozone, or is it narrow spectrum "safe to breathe"?

Bobbar849 karma

I was curious about this too. My experiences with UV light always has included ozone production.

mapocathy8 karma

Please see Chris' response above.

Jason_Worthing32 karma

This design looks interesting, but I notice that the open source files only include a single model for the full design. I have a 3d printer and would be interested in printing my own UVisor. I understand a 3d printed version would likely perform differently than the models Sandia tested, but I'm sure it would still be helpful.

Would you be able to, or are you planning to, upload the design files as individual components?

edit: Also wanted to say a big thanks for releasing this as open-source rather than a for-profit model!

mapocathy16 karma

Great suggestion, Jason. We are looking into releasing the full design by individual components at some point.

piecat25 karma

EE by trade at a medical devices company. (This comment is my own personal opinion).

I started out skeptical, but your work does look promising. The circuit board seems well designed, I think the design of the product looks great. Have some questions/feedback.

It looks like there is foam around the shield? (Or is it cloth?) How easy is this to clean?

Do you have any strategy for dealing with the E-waste of this product? The bulb contains mercury, and while it does meet RoHS, I'm curious how much thought has gone into this. Have you considered any UV LEDs?

Any sort of testing done with how fragile that bulb is? It would be bad if the bulb cracked and now you have a mercury cloud (and quartz dust) around your face.

How loud are the fans? Any dBA measurements? (It looks like the fans don't cover the ears?) Can you reasonably hold a conversation while wearing it, with others hearing you?

How does the UVC affect the material that is used in the bulb chamber? I know UVC is notorious for causing plastic to yellow/degrade/brittle. Are there any negative effects with this, for example, plastic decomposing and off-gassing? Any risk of aged plastic flaking off into airborne particulates?

Finally, the open-source aspect of this project feels lacking. There is no over-arching BOM. The CAD files are in Altium (Consider KiCAD to be more open-source friendly). The files are scattered about the website and it's hard to find any details. Presentation is important, and it really felt like a scam a-la solar roadways. It shouldn't be this hard to find details about an open source project.

Will the team move to close-source it once the concept is hashed out and manufacturers are interested? In other words, is it "open source" to generate hype and revenue, with the goal of going closed-source for profit? (Reddit comes to mind- used to be "open-source")

mapocathy6 karma

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. We’ve closed our AMA a couple of hours ago but I shared your feedback with the team.

I’m not the one who can address the technical aspects of the design, but specific to your skepticism on the website in terms of information not being systematic/organised like what you’d expect from an open source project, that’s some great feedback. To be really honest, it’s a resource issue. To date, over 18 months of running the organisation, we are unpaid volunteers putting the design and knowledge assets with what we can conjure, between our full-time jobs, family, and random challenges that crop up because of the pandemic.

We do take feedback seriously so we’d definitely look into how we can better democratise our information and data.

We have launched 40+ projects, including the Bristol Ventilator and 3D origami face mask (that you can print at home). All of them are open source and remained open source.

piecat6 karma

We have launched 40+ projects, including the Bristol Ventilator and 3D origami face mask (that you can print at home). All of them are open source and remained open source.

Excellent, I'm glad.

I’m not the one who can address the technical aspects of the design, but specific to your skepticism on the website in terms of information not being systematic/organised like what you’d expect from an open source project, that’s some great feedback. To be really honest, it’s a resource issue. To date, over 18 months of running the organisation, we are unpaid volunteers putting the design and knowledge assets with what we can conjure, between our full-time jobs, family, and random challenges that crop up because of the pandemic.

Understood, I have side projects of my own that are neglected. Good on all of you for accomplishing all of this with all the constraints of daily life.

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. We’ve closed our AMA a couple of hours ago but I shared your feedback with the team.

Hope you find my perspective and questions helpful. These are the kinds of questions I'd ask at an engineering design review session. And I'm sure they're along the lines of what a partnering company would ask too.

Best of luck :)

mapocathy5 karma

Totally helpful!! I actually shared your comment with our engineer team (who are asleep now). I’m sure they will chew on them tomorrow. Thanks again for your feedback.

lolexchange15 karma

How much does the unit weigh with the battery and what is the run-time on it?

_peachthief21 karma

It weights about 2.5 pounds (1.1kg) with the weight balanced to be in the middle of the head so it's more comfortable. It can also be used with the batteries placed elsewhere than on the head which reduces the weight on the head by a few hundred grams.

For battery life it's between 4-8 hours depending on which batteries we use, the lamps are the main use of power. It can also be powered by an external battery which would allow it to be used for much longer.

- Chris (Helpful - UVisor Team)

katprime4209 karma

Does the extra weight over time have a negative impact on the neck and spine?

_peachthief11 karma

A good question, the weight is about that of a motorcycle helmet, so we don't believe there is any long term negative impacts based on general experience with those and similar headgear.

- Chris (Helpful - UVisor Team)

mapocathy14 karma

Chiming in to say, it will be wonderful if manufacturers and industrial designers can take our design further and lighten the weight or redistribute the weight more ergonomically for prolonged usage and users with accessibility needs (e.g. elderly with less muscle mass but are more at risk).

orielbean3 karma

If you check out the PAPR systems used by miners and others needing active fans, you will be able to see how they adjust the weight of filters and fans. They also have different battery chemistries.

Also, if you try wearing a chainsaw safety helmet, there is a simple suspension harness that locks onto the persons head which then balances out the heavy face grill and ear muffs without being even more obtrusive. Best of luck!

mapocathy3 karma

Great tips! I will share that with the design team. Thank you.

balanced_view1 karma

Are you going to make the visors available for retail customers? Looks like a great project, best of luck

madeamashup5 karma

It's an open source project, they're making the design and instructions available for free so anyone can make it. The manufacture and distribution is up to other people, but I believe others will be able to sell the visor commercially? OP can chime in here

mapocathy4 karma

You're correct! Ritesh is typing out a more in-depth answer but I wanted to say thank you for chiming in.

durgadas-1 karma

Have you had any anti-masker nutjobs threaten your life?

mapocathy2 karma

Haha not me specifically but I’ll ask our 18k volunteers.

Personally I worked on a project that directed free PPE to underprivileged orphanages around the world, and I got the nicest responses from some amazing non-profits. I think there are a lot of good deeds and good people that get underreported.