2.5 minute read time
May 14, 2021

Over the last year we have become hyper aware of hygiene. We are obsessed with handwashing; we disinfect at will and keep hand sanitizer within reach.

We have come to view public surfaces as danger zones slathered in COVID-19. Doors that open automatically are a relief. While manual doors are not only opened with a hand up the sleeve but with a new indispensable no-touch tool on our keychain. Made of antimicrobial brass, we also use it at the ATM, to summon an elevator and to turn on lights.

Once we return to the office, landlords and facility managers know that employees will bring their new-found hygiene vigilance with them. So continuous and visible cleaning efforts will be essential in assuring employees that the office is, once again, a safe place to work.

Self-cleaning surfaces such as the ones created by NanoTouch have seen demand exploded during the pandemic. NanoTouch has created NanoSeptic skins and mats that turn high traffic touch points into self-cleaning surfaces

Using a combination of material science, nanotechnology and green chemistry, these removable surfaces continuously break down contaminants without using harmful chemicals. NanoSeptic skins are placed on door handles and elevator buttons and on any high-touch surface.

NanoTouch has conducted extensive research into people’s psychology and their perception of the cleanliness of a facility. According to the company’s co-founder, Mark Sisson, people assume that the building is a lot cleaner when they see a self-cleaning surface.

With the use of sensors and the Internet of Things, smart buildings collect data about how space is being used. This information is being used to direct cleaning efforts more effectively. Areas that are used with higher frequency get cleaned more thoroughly and with greater regularity than areas with little traffic. This leads to a higher degree of cleanliness, improved employee satisfaction, and a better use of cleaning resources.

Cleaning Robots

Over the course of the pandemic there has also been a rise in the demand for cleaning robots. Driven by artificial intelligence, these autonomous machines are ramping up cleaning efforts in large spaces.

Sales of Neo, a floor-cleaning robot made by Waterloo, Ont.-based start up Avidbots, have doubled in the last year, according to CEO Faizan Sheikh. “We are getting ready for the permanent shift post COVID-19, of a much higher demand for cleaning and disinfecting than ever before,” he said.

The Breezy One is an autonomous machine that can disinfect a 100,000-sq.-ft. area in an hour and a half. The robot emits a fog that eliminates 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria. The disinfected space can be re-entered in about two hours.

Using UV-C light, a team from MIT has also designed a robot that disinfects surfaces and neutralizes aerosolized forms of the coronavirus. The team has plans to extend the scope of the autonomous disinfecting machine to complex spaces including dorms, schools, airplanes and grocery stores.

Targeted and visible cleaning programs will go a long way in making people more comfortable and confident in their workplaces. A robot or two also wouldn’t hurt!

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