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Surprising Science

Big Brother Is Watching How You Wash Your Hands

A Florida-based startup has created a bracelet-type device that works with RFID tags at hand washing stations to ensure that its wearer is being thorough. It's currently targeted at the healthcare industry, where infections can be very expensive.

What’s the Latest Development?

IntelligentM, a startup based in Sarasota, has come up with a “smart bracelet” that determines how well its wearer is washing their hands. The bracelet works by reading RFID tags at handwashing and sanitizing stations, and can sense not only proper dispensing of sanitizer and washing motions, but also how long the person is standing at the station. If the wearer’s handwashing passes muster, the bracelet buzzes once; if not, it buzzes three times. Tags are also installed outside patients’ rooms and on some equipment, which let the bracelet remind the wearer to clean their hands before proceeding.

What’s the Big Idea?

The device was originally designed for use by healthcare workers, and with good reason: According to the company’s Web site, healthcare acquired infections cost the industry $30 billion each year, and more than 10 percent of the average hospital’s operating budget goes towards infection control. In hospitals, the device would help replace observers who physically monitor how well staff members comply with handwashing procedures. It could be used in other settings, such as those in the food service industry, where cleanliness is important.

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Read it at MIT Technology Review


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