Robots ‘Cleanse portals’ that zap away germs with ultraviolet light are starting to appear as businesses begin to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Robots ‘Cleanse portals’ that zap away germs with ultraviolet light are starting to appear as businesses begin to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Robots

  • Some businesses are starting to install portals that use ultraviolet light to zap away germs as part of an effort to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
  • New York City’s Magnolia Bakery is among the businesses that have installed a portal that’s intended to zap away bacteria and viruses in about 20 seconds.
  • UVC light is considered harmful to humans, but these portals use a different type of UV light known as far-UVC, which is said to be safe.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As cities across the US have gradually begun reopening over the past several weeks, some venues are taking a new, high-tech approach to getting rid of germs: zapping them away with ultraviolet light.

“Cleanse portals” that get rid of bacteria and viruses on surfaces are beginning to appear in places such as bakeries, homeless shelters, and offices. New York City’s Magnolia Bakery announced last month that it was installing a portal made by a company called Healthe that emits far-UVC rays. The machine is capable of cleaning bacteria and viruses on skin, clothing, and goods in about 20 seconds, according to the company.

Lars Eller of the Washington Capitals also donated one of Healthe’s cleanse portals to a homeless shelter in Washington, DC, and a digital-marketing firm in northern Virginia has also installed a germ-killing light portal, according to NBC.

While UVC light is considered dangerous for use on people, as it can damage eyes and skin, far-UVC light — the type used in Healthe’s portals — is said to be safe for humans. Far-UVC rays aren’t capable of penetrating the dead-cell layer of human skin or the eyes, meaning it can’t damage living cells in the body, according to the Columbia University Center for Radiological Research.

There’s been uncertainty as to whether such rays are powerful enough to kill coronavirus germs. But an upcoming paper published by the journal Scientific Reports said far-UVC could eliminate 90% of coronaviruses in the air in about eight minutes, The Wall Street Journal reported. That’s according to findings from David Brenner, the director of Columbia’s Center for Radiological Research.

The idea of using ultraviolet light for sanitation is far from a new concept. Hospitals and medical facilities have used the tech for sanitation purposes, and companies like PhoneSoap sell accessories that resemble miniature tanning beds with the purpose of cleansing mobile devices.

As businesses look to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, there’s been an increased interest in sanitation machines that can cleanse surfaces with UV light. In addition to the far-UVC portals like those made by Healthe, dental offices are considering the use of UV equipment to disinfect air, surfaces, and equipment, according to CNBC.

UV light machines are only one way in which businesses and companies will likely use technology for increased sanitization throughout the pandemic, according to Pieter den Hamer, the senior director for artificial intelligence at the market-research firm Gartner.

Sophisticated cleaning robots that can sanitize frequently touched surfaces like door handles are likely to become more prominent. These machines will be capable of doing more than your average Roomba, den Hamer said.

“If you have a treatment room in a hospital, after the treatment is over, you want to send in a cleaning robot that is able not just to clean the floor or well-defined areas but is able to move around, identify objects that may be in one place at some time and in another place the next time,” den Hamer said.

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