Using IoT And ML On The Edge To Fight COVID-19

Transcript Summary

(0:30) Leigh Christie: Welcome everybody. My name is Leigh Christie. I am here today on behalf of MistyWest Engineering in Vancouver, British Columbia, and today we’re going to talk about fighting Covid-19 with IoT devices. We’ve got a lot to talk about today. Steven, can I just do a time check? How much time do I have to present here today?

(0:47) Steven: So, the presentation can take around 90 minutes. 60 minutes for presentation and 30 minutes for Q & A’s depending, otherwise you can take your time, no problem.

(1:00) Christie:

Ok Great. I’ll leave plenty of time for questions at the end. The presentation won’t quite be 60 minutes long, it will be a bit shorter than that. Well, thank you everyone for joining. The way I’m going to do this is I encourage you all to post questions during the talk. So, as I’m speaking, don’t be shy. Feel free to add your questions to the zoom link there and that way, I can get a bit of feedback in real-time. Today, I am talking mainly about fighting covid-19 with IoT. The name of my company is Misty West engineering. Before we jump into that, just a bit of background about myself personally. I want you guys to get a feel of what I’m all about.

My name is Leigh Christie, who am I?

(1:50) So who am I? I am a Canadian engineer and an entrepreneur, I am absolutely obsessed with designing engineering and building physical devices, especially ones that are intelligent and connected. I found a bunch of cool companies and nonprofits in Vancouver BC and also in the U.S. One thing they all have in common is, I’m trying to create a really great environment for leaders of tomorrow, especially engineering and design Leaders of Tomorrow thrive in their careers. So that’s the kind of thing you’re into, get in touch with me. But today, I’ll also be talking about misty West. 

(2:30) Misty West is my main company. I spend the vast majority of my time. Let’s jump right into it. So, a little bit more background on myself. So, this is kind of how my career started. Early in my engineering career, I decided to build this huge walking machine. This is called the Mondo spider. I’d actually founded MistyWest before I created this company, the Mondo Spider. But back then, MistyWest was just a sort of a sole proprietorship working on odd jobs here and there. The Mondo Spider is really what kind of made me realize the power of building really complex, inspiring engineering projects, that could really help galvanize, motivate, and ultimately help all sorts of different startup companies and large corporations to meet more Innovative and to help achieve sort of inclusive abundance through engineering if you will. It’s an eight-legged walking machine, powered by lithium-ion batteries. If you want to know more about that, hit me up or check out the links there. or

(3:42) I also just love to build things as a hobby just for fun, regardless of money or business or whatever. This is the machine I built as part of the Vancouver junkyard Wars. We do this competition here in Vancouver and it’s quite popular. When we do it, big audiences come and watch these machines compete against one another, and it’s always kind of fun. This pancake-making machine, that was two giant metal steel discs that would rotate and as they rotated to panic, the pancakes would fall off the one on the top, would flip over and fall onto the one on the bottom. It actually worked much better than any of us thought it would. And what was funny about it is that it is built out of junk. It is built out of literally garbage. The pancakes were pretty delicious. If any of you are into junkyard wars or anything like that, let me know because we’re always kind of looking for new people to kind of join our organizations and get involved. 

(4:45) This is one of the projects that I am most proud of. It was my biggest success and one of my biggest failures at the same time. I think every great engineer needs to go through some kind of…  I think it is a rite of passage for every engineer to build something that is both inspiring and amazing but as well as a complete failure. When I was at MIT, this was my thesis project. It worked really well. The prototypes worked well. But the final version of it was totally dysfunctional and didn’t work. There is a pretty long story there and maybe I’ll tell it another time but basically, something went horribly wrong with it and it didn’t work. The final version that was installed in the Venice Biennale of Architecture was totally a failure. (5:30) Yet I’m still very proud of it because I really think embracing failure is really important. It is a really important part of becoming a better engineer and a better entrepreneur. You have to learn from your mistakes and become a better engineer and a better entrepreneur.

(5:46) This is one of those devices. This is what the final versions look like. Essentially it is a heat spotlight that shoots heat directly at you from really far away. It can heat your body up rather than heating the entire building or room, it can heat just you. It is very useful in cold climates and things like that.

(Slide) We are MistyWest. Your bridge from Research to Production. – We are engineers, mathematicians, roboticists, physicists, scientists, designers, developers, and researchers who seek out complex problems to realize a better future through impactful technology. 

(6:10) Okay, so let’s jump right into MistyWest and what we’re all about. MistyWest is primarily a company that takes projects from research and the concept phase, all the way to production in terms of engineering services. We find our clients and help those clients be successful. But we don’t really sell products though. We are not a product company; we are a services company. Specifically, an engineering services company. Most of our engineers have a background in either physics or math, robotics. Some of them are scientists, most of our scientists actually, and a lot of them are developers and coders. The key thing here is we seek out really complex problems. Things that are really, really hard to solve. There are a lot of companies out there that build websites or apps or maybe they design things. Not to see those things are complicated, but what we really try to focus on, and what really differentiates us is that we engineer intelligence and connected devices. That is what we are all about. 

Deep Engineering 

(7:16) We believe in what we like to call deep engineering. This is engineering from first principles using evidence-based reasoning and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. We feel that this applies to all the engineering work that we do, and this really has helped guide us as we worked on some of the most advanced technologies in the world. We do all sorts of different kinds of engineering too. We do nostril design, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, firmware development, and software engineering. These are all sorts of disciplines that we use to help further our ends. 

How We Help

(7:49) The other thing is we also believe in clear communications and radical transparency. The idea here is that we think that it’s better not to hide anything from clients. So, failures included, right? So, if we fail at something we want the clients to gain as much knowledge and experiences from that as possible. We’re not going to sugarcoat things. We’re not going to lie to the client and tell them that their project is a, everything’s going great when it’s not. We really believe that it’s really important to be super transparent, and super honest all the time. The thing that really differentiates us and in the long run we think it’s better. It creates a better engineering environment and better communication. We also believe in a really fast start. So, we think that you know we think that one of the most important things is to get the ground running really fast. So, when you hire us, you’re getting results on day one, and also establishing superior supplier relationships. Thinking about design for manufacturing and supplier relations, very, very, very early in the process.

Capabilities Statement

Our capabilities

(8:47) All right, so let’s talk a bit about discipline. So, I would say we kind of started out mechanical ten to fifteen years ago, that was kind of, we were more mechanical back then. We did a lot more electrical engineering about ten years ago and then we did more and more firmware and software engineering. Now I would say we sort of, all six of these disciplines are bread-and-butter associated. 

Types of Device We Work On

Embedded Systems, Remote Sensing, Medical tech, Optics, Internet of Things.

(9:08) And in terms of, it may seem like, you might be wondering what kind of devices do the work on? Well, you know, as I already said, we work on intelligent and connected devices. But I would say that that can mean a lot of different things. 

(9:20) Embedded systems and remote sensing are probably our two biggest applications. Obviously, IoT which in some ways is kind of the same thing, just prior to. We work on a lot of medical devices, specifically IoT medical devices. I would say more health and wellness devices because we don’t do FDA approval. We work on devices that are FDA approved but we don’t do the medical approval process ourselves. 


(9:45) And we also work on a lot of Optics and projects that involve objects as well as wearables. Wearables for us have been a great source of inspiration, a great source of new clients. And you know, a lot of people were sort of trash-talking wearables back in the days, they sort of thought it was over hype. But it’s pretty obvious at this point that the whole world has gone towards wearables. I’m wearing my smart ring, and my smartwatch, I feel like I got my headphones. You know they’re all these devices are becoming more intelligent, and more seamless and more connected. That’s a world that we believe is going to continue to thrive. That’s the world war part. 

MistyWest’s Product Development Roadmap

(10:25) All right, so I’m not going to delay the details too much on our product development roadmap, but I think the main thing here is for people to understand that there is a process here when it comes to prototyping going from workshop research all the way to production. There’s a lot of different steps in between here and we kind of fit in the middle there. We work on Proof of Concepts and work on Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

(10:50) Another way to think of minimum viable products is, you know, it’s a combination of functional prototypes and production prototypes. Trying to limit that feature set, so that you’re able to get to the market spending a little money as possible. while also, obviously, building a really compelling product. Sometimes we like to call it a minimum lovable product, because you have to really convey to the customer what it’s really all about it, and make sure that they understand it. This is something that they’re going to absolutely adore as a product. See, it goes for investors right. If you’re trying to convince investors to invest in a company, you know, you’ve got to have a product that people really love. If it’s a product that doesn’t inspire people, it’s really hard to find investors. So, a lot of this process of building prototypes is not only about trying to solve hard problems in trying to engineer with the device. It’s the way that you’re de-risking all the aspects of it, but in addition, you’re also trying to make something that’s kind of inspiring, right? And that combination, the easiest way to think about that is, sometimes we like to use the phrase. “Works-like, looks-like prototype. When it’s a “works-like, looks-like prototype, that means it has the book’s functionality and the aesthetics and ergonomics of what would be the final product. 

(12:00) Anyway. Yeah. So, you also notice there’s some iteration lines in here. User testing, internal testing, Alpha testing, data testing, these are iterative processing. As you discover new things in your testing, you have got to go back and fix this, right? So, it’s not just a waterfall and it looks a little, this diagram looks a little bit like a waterfall. But in truth, it’s a highly highly process. So hopefully if that helps, I can answer more questions about this later, but I’m going to move on. But I would be perfectly happy to come back to this to talk about it more if guys have any questions? 

(12:35) Ideation

So, this is our product development roadmap. So, this is kind of all about, I would say this all about, workshopping in research, right? This slide kind of shows you how it is to get to that proof of concept. How is it that we get to the high-level requirements that are needed in order to do a proof of concept? So workshopping, you know, can be a very inexpensive process, used to be a quick meeting, or it could be a really lengthy process, for when you’re trying to solve really hard problems. Workshopping involves trying to discover the design window and try to understand what high-level requirements are in such a way that we can then put those requirements into a proof of concept, and it’s really hard to build a proof of concept. If you don’t know why you’re building and what you’re building it for. 


(13:25) Alright, so this is the next phase of the product development road map, which is showing prototyping. So, during the prototyping phase, we’ve got some cool projects down here in the images. You can kind of see some of the different things work on it. See a lot of electronics. A lot of sort of test rigs, test Jake’s, handheld devices, things that are industrial design, things that don’t really need very much industrial design. Head mounted cameras, handheld cameras, scanners, sensors, some of these things, like sometimes, it looks like a professional product, but more often these things look like a spaghetti wire mess. Proof of Concepts do not need to be pretty. What they need to do is prove the concept. They need to de-risk things on behalf of your investor or your funders. They need to de-risk it so that your engineers can ultimately make good decisions. That’s the main purpose of a proof of concept. 

(14:23) Productization

So, let’s talk a little bit about productization. So again, we’re going to jump into how this all leads to covid-19 shortly. But this will give you a bit more of a background on how/what our approach is. So, if you’re productizing, this is more about functional purpose. This is less about proving the concept and more about solving the hardest problem. So, we’ve got a design for manufacturing in here plus validation. 

(14:50) Sorry, I skipped the functional project.  On the last slide we talk about functional prototypes as well as proof of concepts on the right-hand side. 

(14:59) Productization

And then this slide here, shows the design for manufacturing. This is during productization, it shows you designing manufacturing validation. So, this is the step after functional purposes. This is after you know what your minimum viable product is. And this is where you’re really looking at injection moving, tooling. It is more about testing, validation, making sure that the product is behaving the way you wanted to and ultimately getting you to a production program. 

(Slide) “We build and accelerate an abundant future with ambitious partners willing to take risks in pursuit of extraordinary outcomes.”

(15:26) So these are some of our clients, WWF, Amazon, Google, Microsoft. The thing that really drives us is the sustainable development goals. That’s what we use. We use the sdgs to kind of help guide our company towards success. That’s sort of all of the criteria for the projects we work on. We check to see if they apply to one of the 17 sustainable development goals, and if they do then that’s great. And you know, it means that we’re likely to sort of take that ball and run with it. 

(Slide) What are SDG (Sustainable Development Goals)?

“The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. Below are some of the areas of impact that MistyWest has already Contributed Work to.”

(15:55) So what is SDG?  Well, there are 17 of them but here, I’m just going to show you 9 of them. So, there’s Good Health and Well-Being, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Innovation in Industry Infrastructure, Reducing Inequalities, Sustainable Cities, Responsible Consumption, Life on Land, and of course the Partnership for the Goals. So that’s, we’ve looked to see if our projects fit these criteria. That’s how we choose the type of project we work for. That is how we choose the companies that we get to work with. Especially if their impact focuses on, is that company building something to make the world better and make it more inclusive and abundant. And If it is, that’s our biggest motivation. 

Bionitor LCS for Covid19 -Wearable Health Monitoring Device

(16:33) All right, so let’s jump into covid-19 projects. So, my apologies for some of these slides. They’re not as… I had to like sensor some of them because I’m not allowed to go into too much detail for confidentiality reasons. But what I’ve done is, I’ve created these slides in such a way that you can kind of get an idea of what these devices do and how they help the program and the team. So, this was called Bionitar, it was a partnership with Difinity Solutions and Envisioning labs in Vancouver, BC. And the device, what it is, it’s a combination of sensors. Sensor A, and sensor B. One is more on the head, and one is more on the chest. What it does is, it allows you to measure 5 vital signs at the same time. Respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and SPO2. What the sensor does is it allows you to stay out of the hospital. Some of the highest rates of covid-19 spreads happen in hospitals, right? So, this means that less people…. if someone has covid-19, they can wear one of these devices and be monitored remotely without physically being in a hospital. This is a major breakthrough for many different hospitals around the world. And yeah, we’re really excited to be working on it. It’s an ongoing project. If you’re interested in five in one sensor for covid-19, hit me up, I’d love to talk to you more about it. When it comes to funding and investment, this is all about partnerships. We’re not just trying to build this thing all by ourselves. We’re trying to look for people to partner with us and are interested in partnering with us. So if you want to work on this device or you’re interested in buying one, come talk to us. 

Ocalink – Pantheon Ventilator

(18:06) All right. This one is called Ocalink. It’s a smart and connected ventilator project. It was a partnership with Ocalink, Pantheon and MistyWest. It’s an emergency ventilator so the idea here is that it’s very low cost, and its use during a case of emergency. It is highly, highly affordable. Yeah, for those of you don’t know, ventilators are a crucial part for fighting covid-19, because people have really bad fluid in the lungs and stuff, we need to put them on a ventilator. 

TZOA -Optical Particle and Environmental Sensing Platform

(18:36) This is the air quality monitoring device. So, a lot of people are upgrading their ChexSystems because of covid-19. The more airflow you have enough room, the less likely you are to catch covid-19. So, this is a device that can kind of help you do that. It’s an air particle sensor. It can tell you how much PM 10 and PM 2.5 and dust are in a room. That’s telling you that you’ve got really bad ventilation and a bad air quality. So, it’s a big major leg up for a lot of different companies during COVID-19. The company that makes this is called Tzoa. They’re a really cool company. I highly recommend you checking them out.

Stealth Medical Company – Stealth Product

(19:12) This is a company I can’t talk too much about but it’s a handheld throat scanner. It can detect all sorts of illnesses and growth using LEDs and a CCD. It leverages this machine learning to tell you what’s wrong with someone’s health. It’s pretty elaborate and complex. When we first started it, I don’t think people even knew if it was going to work or not. But we learned pretty quickly that it’s very effective as a device. There’s a lot of complex science and math and physics to go into this machine as well as machine learning but it was a very, very hard project. This was not a quick project. It was a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project but it is an incredible medical device. An incredible health and wellness tool for helping diagnose all sorts of different illnesses, and it can help with covid-19 as well. 

Fatigue Science – Wearable Sleep Monitoring Device

(20:07) This is a chemical fatigue science. This is actually made pre-covid as well. This is another device that can help, similar to a ruler ring….. It’s very, very, very similar to this little ring device I have in my hand here. It basically lasts for 30 days and it measures all sorts of different, sleep data and health data. The idea here is that you can use these kinds of wearables to help fight global pandemics, because you can see how people respond on mask in different areas. You could actually predict ahead of time, if there’s an outbreak in a certain area. Now, we never did an outbreak detection with this particular device, but this type of device can be used to do that. I think that was particularly successful with ruler rings right here on my finger. So, yeah, I mean, I guess the easy way to look at it is like the more ways we measure our vital signs, and that data is like accessible to data scientists, that really makes a big difference for helping fight global pandemics

Let’s make an impact

(21:07) Alright, so that’s the end of my presentation today. It’s only a half an hour presentation. I have a lot more time than I thought I would have. So, I do have more to show. I’ll be more than happy to go back through some slides like I went through rather quickly. But I’d like to open it up in questions for now and we’ll start with some questions. And what I’ll do is I’ll circle back on some of the other devices that they’ve built and some of the machines we’ve worked on over the years. Like I said, plenty more to talk about, but I would like to know who the audience is and what kind of questions that you have before I start rambling on about whatever. So, maybe if some can help facilitate the questions for me, that would be great. I actually don’t know where they’re going to pop up. So, Steven, where should I look to see the questions? 


(22:06) At the bottom of the screen, you will see a Q&A button. So, whenever they push it, it will appear in that. So, guys, feel free to ask your questions. You can also use jack fiction as well, if you don’t want to use your name. Feel free to ask any question that you have. 


(22:34) Don’t be shy.

(22:36) So I have a question. How trustable are these viable? How can we trust these like in medical from a medical point of view? 


(22:53) Yeah, I mean it kind of depends on the project, right? Like something this stealth medical company, they’re going through multiple years of FDA approval and I think once they’re through with FDA approval you can trust them. I think these devices are designed for maximizing trust and there is a lot of certification involved. Now for some of these devices, they don’t need certification. Yeah, so the answer, your basic answer. Your question is that when it comes to IoT devices, especially for covid-19, there’s sort of three categories. There are emergency devices that can get emergency medical approval. Which like the Ocalink ventilator has, for example. And then there’s other devices that have full FDA or is not just for emergencies as we use for anything. That takes even longer and It’s even more expensive. Then they have other devices that just don’t need approval at all. They just need basic…. they’re health and wellness devices. They’re not actually medical devices, and some devices that are health and wellness oriented. It’s more about helping remind you or helping you be more mindful of your health. It’s less about treatment and more about habit-building and habit-forming. That’s the easiest way to think about it really.

 (24:00) So yeah, a good example would be a smart watch. Should you trust the various different heart rate monitors on your smart watch? Well, you know, as an indicator of health, sure. But as a medical device, diagnosing an illness? Not so much. Right. I mean it’s that’s the limit of what you trust. When it comes to privacy, which is also an issue of trust really, devices that are with major corporations like Google and Amazon, it just kind of depends on how much you trust those corporations, right. I mean, if you have a huge amount of trust in Google or a huge amount of trust in Apple, that’s how much you can trust the device right? Those companies stake their reputation on it. So, the way to think about that is, ask yourself what brands do trust? You know, there’s certain brands that I don’t trust, and there are certain brands that I do trust. So, you know privacy is a really tricky issue. I think a lot of companies, especially corporations in America in recent years have had a lot of issues with privacy. And data privacy during covid-19 is a real problem. People are quick to give their data away and not think about what their data is used for. Now with that said, allowing scientists, engineers and researchers to look at your data is really important. If we want to make better products and better medical devices, especially better devices to fight covid-19, we need that data. So, we don’t ever tell people not to show their data. We tell people, when you do share your data, be careful. Make sure you know who you’re sharing your data with, make sure you know what you’re signing for before you sign it. Does that answer your question? 

(25.37) Yeah, great. 


(25:40) Okay great, awesome. 


(25:52) Does anybody else have any questions? You guys can go ahead and ask. No problem at all.


(26:00) So unfortunately, I’m on my phone, so I cannot see the questions. Sorry Steven, I can read the questions, I’ll need you to read them to me.


(26:12) Yeah, if something pops up, I will let you know. 


(26:17) Steven do u have any more questions


(26:21) No, that was the main issue with me. With these viable, people don’t trust them as much. Because I am from Pakistan, so it’s not that acceptable. People don’t trust technology here. Also, there are many restrictions regarding security and privacy, regarding locations and all due to security matters and the things going on. So, we are not far behind here and security is the main problem regarding variables and using smart things here. 


27:05) yeah, I hear you and I think there is an issue with…… There certainly is an issue with smart devices being smart but not secured. And again, there is a security issue, a private issue, and of course there are safety issues. Devices should always be made to be safe, secure and private in my opinion. MistyWest can help do that or if you want it to be safer. 

(27:40) So we’ve got an anonymous question here in the QA. Is it safe for people of all ages? 

The short answer is, well, it depends on what product you’re talking about. But I’m going to assume right now, you’re either talking about…. the chances are you’re talking about the ventilator project. I think. Maybe you can clarify in the QA Anonymous poster. The person that asked the anonymous question, if you can clarify your question. I think you’re talking with a ventilator. 

The answer is I think the ventilator can be used for any age. Yes, I think the answer, I think to check the Ocalink website to learn more about that. It is an emergency generator and so it’s not meant for use really outside of Covid-19. What it’s really meant for is when hospitals get overwhelmed. When you have too many people in the hospital and not enough ventilators. That is the main purpose. As far as I know, I think it’s designed for any age. You can dial the settings. Dial the settings intent. But don’t quote me on that, please do check with Ocalink. 

(29:00) So unfortunately, I need to head off to another call here. I have plenty more answers for more questions. If you guys want to hit me up, DM me on LinkedIn or reach out to me through GAOTek. GAOTek has my email, so if you need an introduction, please ask them for an introduction. But probably the easiest way to get to me is probably on LinkedIn. Make sure you say inn LinkedIn if you send me a message, make sure you say that you saw me on GAOTek presentation so I can have some reference or context of how you know me and I don’t think that you’re a scammer. I’d be happy to answer more of your questions there. So, thank you guys for your time today and Steven unless you have anything else for me.


(29:54) thank you very much for the very insightful presentation. We learned a lot and thanked you very much for your time and being part of us. 


(30:08) Thank you steven, thank you GAOTek, thank you everyone. Bye


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