Necessity is the mother of invention. Given that, here are some health and sanitation inventions that COVID-19 led to.
Personal hygiene has become a pressing thought in people’s minds ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began. From 2020, people have become more aware of contaminated surfaces and are worried about getting infected with the virus in public places.
But if there is one thing to note about the pandemic: it motivated innovators to find solutions for avoiding infection. Solutions that might be especially helpful given that the COVID-19 virus is back with a vengeance. If you are curious about what these products are, here is a list of the top four sanitation inventions that have been created during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultraviolet sanitation tunnel
The American electronics company, Digi-Key, created a 15-foot Ultraviolet sanitation tunnel to keep their operations running during 2020. This tunnel has been built on top of the warehouse’s incoming conveyor belt and is used to disinfect the totes (containers used to transport and store liquids, solids and semisolids) used to move parts around the warehouse. The tunnel kills off 99.9% of all pathogens on the totes, thereby keeping the staff safe from COVID-19. Besides using UV light, the tunnel also sprays the totes with a disinfectant to ensure the highest safety standards possible.
When the pandemic first began, you must have frequently heard the recommendation that you should avoid touching your face to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus. But this is often something people do unconsciously and can even become a habit. To help people resist the urge to touch their face, the U.S.-based company Slightly Robot created a wristband called Immutouch that vibrates when you bring your hand near your face. Immutouch tracks your hand movements ten times per second and gives you a progress report on its app to help you break the habit of touching your face.
Touching your face not only makes you susceptible to COVID-19 but can also make your skin oilier. Every time you touch your face, you spread oil from one part of your face to another. This, in turn, makes you prone to acne. So, if you want to have healthier skin, Immutouch can help you with that as well.
Another thing that was emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic was that people should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds to make sure that they are free from the virus. But everyone isn’t equally good at washing their hands. To help people know whether they were actually scrubbing their hands clean or not, PathSpot created a scanner that checks your hands for disease-causing contaminants.
To do so, it uses visible light fluorescent spectral imaging wherein it shines lights of different wavelengths on your hands, takes an image of them and passes them through a series of filters—all in less than two seconds. Then, based on whether your hands are clean or unclean, the scanner lights up green or red respectively. As of 2022, PathSpot’s scans found that 75% of people don’t wash their hands well enough. By informing people about how well they wash their hands, Pathspot helps people stay accountable for their personal hygiene.
If you think about the heyday of the pandemic, you will remember how all of us constantly had to wash our hands or sanitize after touching any surface. This no longer has to be the case if we get our hands on survival gear manufacturer StatGear’s Hygiene hand. The Hygiene hand is a hook-like antimicrobial keychain tool that can be used to open doors, press buttons and even sign for deliveries. The tool has a Kickstarter page, and you can buy one or more of them by pledging as low as US$16. Hygiene hand has surpassed its US$5,000 and raised US$585,676 as of writing this article.
Cold plasma disinfection device
In 2020, inventors from Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) created a tool that could disinfect surfaces without the use of a hand sanitizer, sprays, ultraviolet light or other chemical-based solutions. The device (yet to be named) cleans surfaces using cold plasma, which is known to kill off disease-causing pathogens. The device constantly sprays cold plasma onto surfaces, thereby ensuring that they are always disinfected.
Unlike the other inventions on this list, this one is still in the prototype stage. It is believed that this would be beneficial in reducing the cost and water wastage of sterilizing plastic containers in the food and beverage industry.
Besides these, there have also been a lot of changes to how public sanitation operates such as the trend of using touchless technology and self-cleaning systems. Of course, even with all the tech, a lot of sanitation practices come down to legislation and the execution of sanitation policies by local law enforcement bodies. But hopefully, all of these help prevent the spread of COVID-19 this time around and also help us maintain high standards of sanitation in the years to come.
Header image courtesy of Envato