UK-based tech company SAVORTEX has launched a smart hand sanitizer, offering an added layer of hygiene against potential coronavirus transmission. Aside from dispensing sanitizer automatically, it also sends alerts when liquid is running low and when building occupants fail to use it. However, it also signals a wider societal shift towards greater surveillance of human behaviour, something which potentially brings its own risks.
The SAVORTEX hand sanitizer harnesses sensors to provide users with the exact amount of sanitizer required. It provides owners with real-time anonymized usage data, yielding insights into cleaning patterns and whether building occupants are maintaining a sufficient level of hygiene.
The hand sanitizer is connected to the internet via a cellular connection, and will alert facility managers to potential safety risks when occupants or workers fail to clean their hands. It also comes with a video screen, allowing building managers to display hygiene-focused messages.
According to SAVORTEX CEO Syed Ahmed, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for hand sanitizers that can be used safely and effectively. This is particularly true as people return to work at a time when there’s a risk of a second coronavirus wave.
“Hand sanitisers have been around for decades, but now, due to Covid-19, they are in the front line in the fight against this terrible disease,” says Ahmed, who in 2006 was a contestant on the UK version of The Apprentice. Ahmed was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the English Asian Business Awards in 2015, while in 2006 he was arrested on suspicion of being involved with money laundering.
He adds, “Our ‘Smart’ Hand Sanitiser provides a safe, ‘no touch’ solution that monitors usage and provides building owners with peace of mind that vital hygiene protocols are being followed.”
Having previously had its products used by GSK, Shell, and Gatwick Airport, SAVORTEX developed its smart hand sanitizer in partnership with Arm, which provided the connectivity technology the device uses. Its VP and GM of Connectivity, Vincent Korstanje, also believes that the product is a game changer.
He says, “Health and safety is paramount with the ongoing global pandemic, so Arm partnering with SAVORTEX has been a great opportunity to transform the hygiene industry.”
The SAVORTEX hand sanitizer does appear to be the first major ‘smart’ hand sanitizer available on the market, with other similar devices lacking data reporting and (non-)usage alerts. SAVORTEX claims that the device’s “IoT capabilities significantly reduce hygiene risks, improve health & safety, reduce cross-contamination, and lessen the manual labour and maintenance needed compared to traditional sanitisers.”
What’s interesting about the smart hand sanitizer is that, as with many other technological solutions to the coronavirus pandemic, it encourages and enables mass surveillance. Yes, this may only be surveillance of whether people are sanitizing their hands, but it potentially helps normalize the idea that we need to be monitored for our own safety. This not only carries privacy and civil liberty risks, but it may ultimately encourage laziness and dependency.