Back in February I wrote a blog post called The Future of Hygiene which I took a look at some of the advances I thought might be coming our way in the hygiene sector. I focussed mostly on the use of bacteria and bio-enzymes in both personal and industrial hygiene products.
But what technological hygiene trends might be coming our way in the not so distant future?
Internet of Things:
My prediction would be that like everything else, hygiene is going to further enter the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). Wikipedia describes the IoT as “the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.”
In our European business, hygiene has already well and truly entered this age, with Initial using wireless technology to improve hygiene compliance. Initial’s HygieneConnect is a wireless solution that helps businesses in a variety of sectors maintain high hand hygiene standards through continuous monitoring of on-site hand washing behaviours.
How does it work?
Wireless sensors are placed at the entrance of a critical control area or washroom and beneath soap dispensers, anonymously monitoring the number of people entering the area and the number of people who use soap to wash their hands.
Using data collected through the sensors, the solution calculates the hand wash compliance percentage with the use of a powerful algorithm mirroring human behaviour and sends the calculated statistics, in real-time, to the cloud every 15 minutes such that the data can be viewed on myInitial; a comprehensive customer portal, for result analysis and custom report generation to support internal and external audits.
The hand wash compliance percentage is also displayed on the Hygiene Display Monitor to help nudge users into subconsciously correcting their hygiene behaviours.The technology monitors hand hygiene compliance anonymously, in real-time, and sends data every 15 minutes through an integrated 3G SIM card. The system works independently and does not cause disruption to the client’s business’ network connection or machinery.
Unlike human observation, HygieneConnect is able to monitor hand washing behaviours continuously without interrupting your day-to-day operations. The solution enables users to see the most up-to-date hand wash compliance percentages of a specified area, 24 hours a day - 365 days a year. HygieneConnect can reduce non-compliance by up to 50%. For more information on Hygiene Connect, take a look at our Initial site in the UK.
My other prediction is that we are going to see more and more “smart surfaces” being developed in the hygiene arena. By that I mean surfaces that either clean themselves, or that have embedded nanotechnology to make them inherently more hygienic. Research has certainly already started in this arena, but many of the developments are still in their infancy and have yet to be applied commercially, so don't hold your breath for a self-cleaning desk just yet!
For example, an article in the European Cleaning Journal reported that scientists have developed the first self-cleaning metal. It’s “fluid-repellent, antibacterial, metal surface could eventually lead to self-cleaning saucepans, toilets, and dishwashers”. This new technique will initially be used to create antibacterial surfaces for use in the food production industry, before it finds traction in the domestic market.
Another article in the European Cleaning Journal reported that in the US, an airport in Ohio has started using “nanotechnology solution that uses light to clean airport security trays 24 hours a day. It is the first airport in the world to introduce such a solution.” The trays contain mineral nano-crystals which create a self-cleaning oxidation reaction that is stronger than bleach, continuously breaking down organic contaminants.
And in an article from 2016, Boeing announced that it had developed a self-cleaning toilet for its planes that uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.99% of germs in the lavatories, disinfect all surfaces after every use in three seconds and keep the washroom germ-free. Activated only when the airliner toilet isn't in use, the lights flood touch surfaces such as the toilet seat, sink and countertop. Not to be outdone, Airbus announced that they are developing “touchless technologies for our future lavs, and we will also include anti-bacterial surfaces as an upcoming lav feature."
Initial already utilises nanotechnology in our Signature range of products. All Signature products have surfaces that have antibacterial silver ions embedded within the plastic and painted coating. This provides hygienic protection on touchable surfaces and makes it easier for dirt, debris and bacteria to be cleaned and removed from the surfaces. Signature products such as sanitary bins and soap dispensers are also all available in no-touch options.
Rest assured that whatever the future holds for the hygiene market, Initial will be at the forefront with our range of innovative and cutting-edge hygiene solutions.
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