During the peak of the pandemic, sanitizers, PPE, and N95 masks moved from specialized medical vocabulary to everyday essentials. Sanitation and hygiene in the community became critical to manage the spread of infection and protect the vulnerable. In a post-pandemic world, public health continues to be the top priority. Communities and individuals are focused on managing the spread of harmful viruses and finding innovative, cost-effective, and efficient ways to do so. Even governments are recognizing the importance of offering financial and regulatory support to bring new healthcare devices to market quickly and encourage their adoption and use.
Design teams are focused on innovating advanced and specialized healthcare devices that can kill viruses, manage the spread of germs and promote personal and community health. A few of the trends that stand out in this category include:
1: Personal Air Purifiers
The air purifier has always been a somewhat bulky device designed to remove odors and pollutants from the air in environments like homes, kitchens, and offices. However, consumers today are looking for access to clean air, wherever they are, including in crowded airplanes, elevators, or events. Personal hardware devices are becoming extremely popular, filtering out floating particles, attacking allergens, and neutralizing harmful bacteria.
These include surprisingly small machines and wearable devices that filter the air around personal spaces. The hardware devices use a variety of technologies including electrostatic, ionic, HEPA, and UV filtration. A prime example is the incredibly innovative Air Tamer – surpassing industry standards for air purification. Launched in 2004 but growing in popularity today, Air Tamers work by electrostatically charging the particles in the air and using oppositely charged plates that attract and grab the particles from the air stream.
2: UV Light Sanitizers
The pandemic made people aware of live molecule pathogens that are transferred by touching surfaces and highlighted the prevalence of disease-causing germs on personal items like mobile phones, keys, and even pens. UV-C light sanitizers have seen a surge in demand since 2020.
These devices use short-wavelength, ultraviolet light to break apart the dna of live bacteria, germs, and contaminants, destroying the pathogens. CleanSlate UV is a Canadian example of a professional UV Light sanitizer system. The Toronto-based company produces a medical-grade UV Light Sanitizer device that eliminates pathogens on mobile devices and personal items. The device is invaluable in a variety of settings, for example in a hospital room to allow hospital staff, patients, and visitors to sanitize the surfaces of personal items to reduce the spread of infection.
3: Innovative Sanitation Stations
In the new normal brought on by COVID-19, public spaces, workplaces, venues, schools, banks and shopping malls are now expected to provide access to personal sanitizing stations. The role of public spaces in promoting sanitation and hygiene has become critical. However, this cannot be achieved through standalone disinfectant and sanitizer dispensers alone. There has been a need to innovate and rethink the approach to sanitary neutralizing of potentially harmful substances in various environments.
One example of a creative sanitization solution is WashSense, a smart handwashing monitor. The California hardware startup monitors and educates users on how to wash their hands correctly, giving them a score out of 100. This makes hand-washing a fun and engaging experience. The point-of-care device also provides feedback to facility staff and has reduced infection spread by 30 percent in assisted living and health care facilities. Various public spaces are coming up with creative ways to promote the use of their sanitation stations and encouraging visitors to keep their hands clean, for the benefit of all humans using the space.
4: Cashless Pay Stations
Objects that transfer between people during transactions is another area of focus for reducing contaminant spread. Paper money and credit cards have been identified as potential surfaces that can cause the spread of harmful germs to others. Cash transactions are steadily on the decline. Consumers are more likely to carry credit or debit cards for both convenience and establishments encourage this to prevent the spread of viruses.
This trend is encouraging many payment providers to innovate in the hardware space and develop new contactless pay stations and devices. For instance, In the charity space, Toronto-based Aviro offers several solutions to help merchants and charities collect payments without exchanging cash. Their KwikGive device is a stand-alone donation box that makes cashless fundraising happen without touching surfaces or the exchange of coins or bills.
The rise of personal healthcare devices and wearables for individuals as well as hardware that stops the spread of potentially harmful particles and germs in community spaces is an encouraging trend. Technology and innovation in design are making a difference in how we deal with preventing and managing public healthcare crises in the future.