This Bat-Inspired Shield Combats COVID-19

By Rakini Bergundy, March 5, 2020

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In the 17th century, doctors in Europe wore creepy costumes paired with long bird-beaked masks to examine patients during the plague. The long beak was stuffed with dried flowers, herbs and spices in order to combat the believed culprit of the disease – ‘bad air.’ 

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Image via Wikimedia

Fast forward four centuries later, as COVID-19 cases spread across the globe, Chinese architect Dayong Sun of design firm Penda has conceptualized a “wearable shield,” called ‘Be a Bat Man.’ According to Sun, he imagines that the shield can be mass deployed during an epidemic. The shield uses UV light to create a sterile environment for the wearer by heating the temperature which will ultimately kill any pathogens in the air. 

As the name suggests, the shield is inspired by bats. Although bats are important pollinators in the ecosystem and also eat pesky mosquitoes, the creatures have been linked to deadly diseases such as SARS, MERS and COVID-19. Bats are known to carry multiple pathogens, but scientists believe the nocturnal mammals’ adaptation for flight negate them from becoming sick themselves. IFL Science explains that when bats fly, their internal temperature jumps up to 40 degrees Celsius, which becomes too hot for viruses to survive. 

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Image via Deezen

Sun’s shield system is intended to be worn like a backpack and features a lightweight carbon fiber shield, similar to a bat’s wings. The shield ultimately acts like a “wearable building” – in architectural philosophy the building is the third skin, the first being a person’s skin and the second being clothing. 

Be a Bat Man is currently only a concept, but Sun is open to collaborating with investors, and even offering his design services free of charge in order to turn the project into reality. However, Dayong notes, “We still need to do a lot of work with engineers for the real production.” 

[Cover image via Deezen]

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