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Local solution for vaccine flaw

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Johannesburg based Beyond Wireless has developed a simple, user-friendly solution to the global challenge of monitoring the vaccine cold chain.

Called ColdCloud, its creators believe it could help to prevent millions of deaths in the developing world. It is currently in use in 54 countries across five continents. Locally, Beyond Wireless aims to align South Africa’s pharmaceutical industry with international best practice.

According to the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), rolling out childhood immunisations against Hib, pneumococcal and rotavirus diseases in the world’s 73 poorest countries over the next decade will result in an estimated $63 billion in treatment and productivity savings and avert 3.7 million deaths. The challenge, however, is that these countries are often ill equipped to transport, store and distribute vaccines.

Governments around the world are focusing on legislation that aligns their pharmaceutical industries with international best practice, which includes requiring constant temperature monitoring at every leg of the cold chain.

Beyond Wireless founder and CEO, Ian Lester, explains that this is because vaccines must be stored between 2 and 8˚ C. “Temperature excursions outside of this band can reduce and even destroy the effectiveness of vaccines,” he says. “Imagine – you think you’ve immunised your child against pneumococcal disease, but because the vaccine has got too hot or too cold, it’s actually ineffective. It’s a scary thought, but a reality in many poor regions. Even if people have access to vaccines, which is a challenge in itself, are those vaccines effective in combating disease?”

Lester, along with his clients like the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross, believes that improving immunisation is thus a catalyst to solving broader issues, from healthcare through to poverty.

“Ideally, consumers and patients should be able to request proof of compliance from clinics, doctors’ rooms, pharmacies and other medical suppliers to show that vaccines have remained within the required temperature band,” says Lester. “This would significantly boost the efficacy of immunisation efforts.”

Fixing vaccine cold chain

Global best practice suggests automatic temperature monitoring of vaccine and other temperature-sensitive drugs as the best option for maintaining the cold chain, yet many countries in the developing world still lag behind in this regard, which is where Beyond Wireless believes ColdCloud can assist.

“Across the entire length of the cold chain, but especially at the last mile, it’s extremely difficult to ensure that the vaccine cold chain is properly maintained,” Lester says. “If for instance your power goes off in the middle of the night or if a door is accidentally left open, you’re not going to know whether the vaccine in the fridge has gone outside of its temperature range or not. Our GSM enabled remote temperature monitoring device, the ice, is battery operated (with a battery that lasts for five years without the need to recharge to replace it), so it doesn’t require any external power source and is therefore completely immune to damage from power surge. This is a major advantage in the developing world where power can be both unreliable and dirty. The ice device sits in the fridge and monitors power supply, door position and temperature, and escalates alarms via email, sms and via a smart-phone app when anything goes wrong.”

The Beyond Wireless real time temperature monitoring solution is also accessible from any standard browser or smart device with an internet connection. “If you’re working for a health NGO that has vaccine fridges in far-flung locations around the world, you can pull out your phone or tablet wherever you are, log in, and check on the status of every fridge being monitored, as well as pulling up historical data, which allows you to see trends and make informed decisions. I truly believe that by improving the monitoring and control of vaccine cold chains in vaccine distribution points around the world, we can save millions of lives, as well as improving the health and economies of entire societies.”

The ColdCloud solution offers two devices, ice and ice EXTRA, both are WHO PQS and ISO 9001:2008 certified. Beyond Wireless has recently begun to partner with OEMs to supply fridges with the ice and ice EXTRA already installed, thus simplifying access to effective remote cold chain monitoring even further.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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