Innovation That Matters

Hand washing | Photo source Rawpixel on Unsplash

New device can detect bacteria on hands

Food & Drink

A new device can detect bacteria left on hands after incorrect washing, and help prevent food-borne illness.

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According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), proper hand washing can reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 31 percent. However, the CDC also found that 62 percent of restaurant workers don’t wash their hands after handling raw beef. Now, entrepreneurs Christine Schindler and Dutch Waanders have developed a device that could help workers to wash their hands more effectively. The pair have developed PathSpot, a device that uses spectroscopy to check bacteria levels on employees’ hands.

PathSpot consists of a small, black box connected to an iPad. The box emits light on a specific wavelength. Users place their hands beneath the device while it emits the light. The iPad scans the light reflected by your hand, and uses a specially-written algorithm to analyze the way that it fluoresces. Different wavelengths of light fluoresce will display on contaminated hands versus on clean hands. Therefore, the device can determine if hands are contaminated with bacteria based on the fluorescence detected. If bacteria is detected, the device flashes red. If users’ hands are clean, it emits a blue glow.

In order to ensure that employees actually use the device, PathSpot can also track their interaction with the device. The software can, for example, alert a manager if the employee does not scan their hands a certain number of times a day. PathSpot has already been installed in farms, packaging facilities, and restaurants in the US. The company is a graduate of the TechStars mentorship program in New York City, and is in the process of securing additional funding. Waanders and Schindler are also working on designs for a portable device that could attach to a smartphone and used by individuals. At Springwise, we have seen spectroscopy used in a hand-held scanner and for mobile sample analysis. Will spectroscopic devices like PathSpot now help to reduce food-borne illness?



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