Necessity breeds innovation, and during this pandemic that has resulted in some unique ways to curb the spread of Covid-19. Door handles in well-trafficked locations are notoriously dirty and a hot spot for viruses, so a Swiss company called Tweaq has created what it’s calling the “world’s first smart self-disinfecting door handle.”
One solution that’s been slowly adopted around the world is replacing traditional hand-operated door handles with foot-operated mechanisms so there’s never any skin contact being made. It’s an idea that will undoubtedly gain popularity in new constructions moving forward, but the process of retrofitting existing doors with foot mechanisms is complicated and expensive. The Touch 1 might seem over-engineered, but installing it, and replacing an existing hand-operated door handle, takes just 10 minutes, according to the company, and requires no modifications to the door.
For the average person, there’s no learning curve for using the Touch 1 either, it’s simply grabbed and turned to open a door. But once the handle is released, a sensor pumps liquid disinfectant from a built-in reservoir into a sponge located on the inside of a metal ring that sits around the door handle. With the disinfectant applied, a motorised mechanism then slides the ring back and forth along the length of the handle which Tweaq claims eliminates “99% of bacteria and viruses in less than three seconds.”
For ease of use, the Touch 1 is powered by a lithium battery that’s housed in the same cartridge that holds the disinfectant, which allows for up to 1,000 cleanings before the cartridge needs to be replaced. Instead of tossing it, the cartridges are sent back to Tweaq for refilling and charging the battery before sending them out again. Instead of having to wait for the door handle to stop working, or it running out of disinfectant without a user knowing, each Touch 1 keeps track of its own usage and sends warnings to a mobile app when its cartridge needs to be replaced.
A single pair of Touch 1 units (one for each side of a door) will sell for about $700 when available in early July 9 (with discounts for larger orders) while the replacement cartridges will be about $25 each. On top of that, there’s a $12/month subscription plan for “complete access to IOT connectivity” that streamlines maintenance for large facilities looking to install many of these, as well as free shipping on the replacement cartridges. It’s expensive, there’s no doubt about that, but Tweaq claims, at least during the pandemic when businesses have to be especially vigilant about cleaning and disinfecting, that the Touch 1 could actually save money in the long run over a manual cleaning regime. It could potentially be more effective too, given the handles are automatically cleaned after every single use.