Earlier this month, Kontrol Energy’s BioCloud technology received a two million dollar investment from the Ontario government. Kontrol, a Canadian energy company with international collaborators, was founded in 2015, and has made a name for itself through it’s use of technological innovation to address modern problems, such as energy efficiency, air quality and carbon emissions.
Kontrol’s new BioCloud technology is a system designed to detect the ambient presence of COVID-19 in indoor air, and marks the company’s first shift to pandemic era solutions. While coronavirus air testing has recently experienced a technological boom, with companies such as eurofins, AssuredBio, and PathogenDx offering their own air testing technologies, the BioCloud system stands out as the sole system that is capable of delivering real-time notifications of ambient coronavirus presence.
Other air testing technologies rely on shipment of samples to an offsite lab, with results typically delivered within 24-48 hours. The BioCloud unit, however, is capable of testing samples on site with total automation. If Sars-Cov-2 is detected in the air at levels as low as 0.005ng, the machine functions much like a fire alarm, sending out an immediate digital alert to users or facility personnel, and results to a Cloud-based database. Physically, the BioCloud is about the size of a microwave, and can be mounted as a wall unit, or installed in an HVAC system.
The benefits of the BioCloud are tempting, particularly as new strains emerge and doubts continue to be cast on the timeline of vaccine rollout and the efficacy of vaccines as an end-all solution. The primary argument against the BioCloud seems to be its price tag and its availability—units are currently expected to be priced at $12,000 USD, according to supply chain costs. Public school systems are often underfunded by pre-pandemic standards, and it seems unlikely that schools will be able to pay $12,000 per classroom. Restaurants, hotels, and theaters face similar constraints after being hit hard economically by the pandemic, though they have much to gain from the peace of mind that such a technology would provide their clients.
Nevertheless, the BioCloud seems to have successfully secured a market for itself. The technology has been endorsed by National Science Research Council of Canada, approved by UL Standards, and is slated to ship worldwide in the coming months. With extra funding from the Ontario Government, manufacturing and commercialization is expected to speed up, accelerating its potential to bring positive change to hard-hit industries.