Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Coronavirus: Apple and Tesla reveal the new products they're making in COVID-19 fight

Apple puts its expertise into face shields, while Tesla engineers create a ventilator prototype using Tesla Model 3 parts.

Apple and Tesla repurpose production line toward COVID19 efforts
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Electric car maker Tesla and tech giant Apple have revealed progress in their respective plans to help the healthcare industry make up medical equipment supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic

Two weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company will make ventilators if there was a shortage at hospitals, the company's engineers have posted a video on YouTube showing two versions of a prototype ventilator that's being built at a Tesla factory using components from Tesla vehicles. 

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"We're trying to make some ventilators out of some car parts so that we can help out the medical industry without taking away from their supply," said a Tesla engineer talking through a face mask. 

The first Tesla prototype ventilator includes a mixing chamber – a part used in Tesla vehicles – which mixes oxygen and air for the ventilator. It's connected to a pressure sensor and flow-rate sensor.

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The 'package version' of the prototype features a ventilator test screen that shows the pressure, flow and volume of oxygen being pumped. The display is powered by the Tesla Model 3 infotainment computer, which also is used to communicate with vehicle controllers that make up the ventilator. 

The prototype also includes a backup system with an oxygen tank and backup battery and an air compressor that offers about 20 minutes to 40 minutes of disconnected oxygen supply if medical workers need to move a patient to a different area of a hospital.   

It's not clear when Tesla might be able to ship the Tesla ventilator, which would still need to pass tests by the Food and Drug Administration. Tesla engineers said there is still much work to be done to deliver a Tesla ventilator.

Tesla engineers have provided an update on the company's ventilator, which is made from existing car parts.
Source: Tesla/YouTube

Meanwhile Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in a Twitter post on Sunday Apple's progress in delivering face masks and the firm is now manufacturing foldable plastic face shields for healthcare workers. 

Cook said Apple had sourced over 20 million face masks through its supply chain for distribution across the world. 

"This is a truly global effort and we're working continuously and closely with governments at all levels to ensure these are donated to places of greatest need," said Cook.  

"Second, we've launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations, and packaging teams, and our suppliers, to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers." 

SEE: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Cook said Apple's first shipment was delivered last week to Kaiser hospital facilities in the Santa Clara Valley. Each box contains 100 flat-packed face shields that take two minutes to assemble.    

The model Cook showed is a plastic transparent shield that covers the entire face and has a band at the rear for adjusting the shield to the wearer's head. 

"We're sourcing materials and manufacturing in the US and China. We plan to ship over one million by the end of this week and over one million per week after that.    

The first batch of face shields is intended for US hospitals where protective gear is needed most urgently. However, Cook said that Apple hopes it can "quickly expand distribution beyond the US". Cook said Apple's focus is on "unique ways Apple can help". 

Google last week used its access to vast amounts of precise location data to produce its community mobility reports, showing mobility trends to key places, such as work, transit stations, parks, retail outlets, and grocery stores.