ANSTO workstation idea aims to minimise COVID-19 transmission

Bright idea: Team U Space won the challenge with their concept for a smart workstation. Picture: Supplied
Bright idea: Team U Space won the challenge with their concept for a smart workstation. Picture: Supplied

A team from ANSTO comprising researchers and start-ups from its innovation centre, nandin, has won a worldwide challenge to come up with a concept for a new type of workstation that minimises the risk of COVID-19 contamination.

The Australian Computer Society (ASC) held a Flatten the Curve Hackathon last month comprising of five different challenges associated with COVID-19.

More than 2700 innovators across the world battled it out over 48 hours to come up with unique and innovative solutions for the post COVID-19 world.

The Future of Work Challenge asked innovators to find ways to make the shared workspace, which is found in about 30 per cent of all workplaces, safer.

Team U Space, comprising ANSTO researchers and nandin start-ups, were crowned the winners of the challenge, thanks to their concept for a workstation that minimised contamination risks in shared workspaces.

Team U Space member and research lead at ANSTO, Dr Mitra Safavi-Naeini, said U Space was a "clean, smart workstation" that combined with a mobile application, would minimise the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses in shared workplaces of the future.

"Sensors in the workstation confirm it has been properly sanitised, while per-workstation wipe and hand sanitiser dispensers are equipped with additional sensors to inform the floor administrator if resources are depleted," she said.

U Space team member and chief scientist of nandin-based Hyron Scientific, Jay Flack, said the team worked to develop viable ideas and solutions.

Team work: Team U Space.

Team work: Team U Space.

"Drawing upon the team's diverse expertise, we developed a new, safe and smart workstation that could be deployed in more than 30 per cent of workplaces around the world," Mr Flack said.

"No one knows for sure what the post COVID-19 world will look like, but the one thing we do know is that there will be a much greater focus on personal hygiene and space.

"U Space brings some peace of mind in this new environment, where we all know just how significantly others around us can affect our health."

Team facilitator and ANSTO's director of innovation and commercialisation Professor Tim Boyle said innovative work such as this was critical to helping Australia flatten the COVID-19 curve.

The team also included Julia Garside, Nathan Burke, Scott Coleman and ShanShan Wang.

"I want to congratulate Team U Space for their hard work and insightful ideas, which will help Australia arise stronger from the current situation," he said.

"To be named a winner out of more than 2700 competitors is an incredible achievement and an example of the type of innovative work taking place at ANSTO andnandin every day."