Smart handwashing station finds the dirty work

One of the most effective public health measures against COVID-19 and all other infectious diseases is frequent and effective handwashing.

The part of our hands we are least likely to wash is the area between the thumb and first finger – the bit that goes first onto handrails and door handles.

A smart handwashing station developed by Dr Elke Hacker from QUT and colleagues at Designworks delivers real-time feedback on how well you have washed your hands, is a simple, instant and effective way to let you know how effective your handwashing technique is and where you can improve.

After testing earlier this year, the smart handwashing station will be set up on the Gold Coast Esplanade November 21-22nd 2020 to communicate the importance of hand hygiene amongst visitors.

To reduce potential transmission the smart handwashing station is a touch-free platform. The user’s hands hover under an ultraviolet LED light and digital camera. The station is connected to a tablet showing an image of the user’s hands in real time.

The smart handwashing station also utilises a sensor mat that records each time a person stands on the mat to gain analytics of when users check their hands.

In a recent field study, we set the station up near handwashing facilities close to the entry of a large Queensland primary/high school for 10 school days.

Students were invited to test the device by applying a hand moisturiser containing a UV fluorescent compound, then wash and dry their hands and put them under the UV light. The light highlighted in purple any areas not washed enough to remove the moisturiser.

The smart sunscreen station’s electrical components remained operational during field testing and underwent robust cleaning each day.

The handwashing station was used 1138 times during the field testing and there was no COVID-19 transmission at the school during the study.

The data show the smart handwashing station provided a personalised visual tool for each to see where they could improve their handwashing technique.

The station was developed with industrial design company Designworks to provide insights into hand hygiene without being resource intensive nor requiring any other device such as installed sensors in washrooms.

Importantly for these times, the smart handwashing station does not need any human interaction during operation and or staff during deployment and data collection.

Users are able to social distance while moving from the automatic lotion dispenser to sink areas for washing and then to the station to view feedback in a well-ventilated outdoor space.

The study, Smart Handwashing Station: Field study, was published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance.