Talk To The Hand: Rethinking The Sanitizer

It’s hard to believe that in the mid-nineteenth century, Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, a pioneering Hungarian physician, was sent to an asylum for his efforts to promote hand-washing as an important tool to prevent the spread of disease. In today’s day and age while nobody contests the fact that sanitizing hands is important, the reality is that hospital infections are still a widespread and increasingly deadly problem. In fact, the World Health Organisation has even declared the 5th of May as Global Hand Hygiene Day and the medical industry is thinking up new ways to encourage better hand hygiene.

One such innovation launched earlier this week, is called Hansure. Created by Observe Design, a startup incubated by Stanford India Biodesign, Hansure is a portable hand sanitizer that can be clipped onto a belt.

HansureLed by a team of Indian researchers namely Aanan Khurma, Saurabh Bag, Agyeya Dwivedi and Maninder Sra, the project received funding for research from Johnson and Johnson and seed funding was facilitated by Czech ICT Alliance. The product has two versions – one using a mechanical system that simply squeezes out sanitizer (priced at $25) and an automatic device that can actually track usage and provide notifications, priced at $55. The product comes with removable cartridges which are priced at $2.50 a piece.

Aanan Khurma, CEO of Observe Design, had this to say in a press release:

With Hansure, we want to fight MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and other contagious diseases in the worst affected parts of the world. As our support to the Global Hand Hygiene day, we are providing hundreds of free products to healthcare professionals. The product will be commercially available to others very soon.

Similar products already exist in the market from companies such as SwipeSense – which can be clipped onto doctors and nurses scrubs – and Pure-Go, which makes a wrist-worn dispenser. The only potential issue is that people using these devices have to wear them at all times and then actually remember to deploy the sanitizer.

In a bid to overcome this barrier and get hospital workers to sanitize regularly, UK-based Agency of Design, has developed a solution that makes it easy for people to sanitize their hands, without having to remember to wear a device. They created PullClean – a door handle that has a hassle free built-in dispenser filled with hand sanitizer liquid. Additionally, the product has a sensor that is connected to a web application, which will report how frequently sanitizer is dispensed, compared to how frequently the doors are opened.


PullClean door handles

Innovation expert Naresh Shahani of BMGI India, blogging about this at Chief Innovator Online says that ‘push-mechanisms’, such as reminding people of the consequences of not sanitizing aren’t nearly as effective as removing the barriers:

By focusing on the barrier itself—and not the human who has to overcome it—this team was able to come up with a better solution. They did what all great inventors do: see a problem around them and not accept the current solution.”

The PullClean handles will cost $200 and will start shipping later this year.

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