Augmented reality hand-washing app brings users up to WHO standards
An Irish tech company has launched an augmented reality app to ensure health professionals, workers and the general public are correctly washing their hands to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards during the Covid-19 pandemic.
SureWash uses live video to measure people’s actual handwashing technique and then gives real time feedback on their proficiency. With repeated use, the user’s muscle memory learns the correct actions and the WHO standard of washing hands will become second nature to them. Studies have shown that it takes about 23 practice sessions over two weeks to build the muscle memory so as to master the technique.
By gamifying the learning process, SureWash makes developing the muscle memory easier and more fun. Once the technique has been mastered hand hygiene compliance rates can increase by as much as 50%.
The Trinity College Dublin spin-out has been working with 200 hospitals and a range of sports organisations across the world helping them implement hand hygiene training systems. The app is a replica of kiosks used to train healthcare staff and was launched so hospitals can use this as a quicker extension of the training they were already engaged in.
However, it is also aimed at employers to protect their workplaces – especially those in the pharma and food-production industries – as well as showing the general public how to protect themselves from the coronavirus infection.
Co-founder and CTO Professor Gerard Lacey said: “We started by developing kiosks that hospitals used to train staff without needing to remove them from the workplace to attend training. It also gives them access to instant data on proficiency in hand hygiene technique.
“Phase 2 was the launch of the app version. We use gamification and augmented reality to record the movement of the hands and give feedback on what they are doing correctly or incorrectly. Once they have done this process between 17 and 25 times, it will go into their muscle memory. The app tests your skills objectively as we can often convince ourselves we are doing it right but we are missing parts that harbour microbes.
“The messages currently going around about singing the Happy Birthday song when washing your hands or doing it for 20 seconds are a good first step as it is better for people to be doing something rather than nothing. However, we believe that if you are going to do it, you should do it right.
“The most common place for microbes to breed are on the fingertips, which are often missed when people wash hands. And we typically touch our faces, usually with our fingertips, between 16 and 20 times per hour.
“This should be a process that we continue during the regular flu season even when this pandemic is over. During flu season, one in three staff bring home the flu to their children. However, if we wash our hands regularly and correctly, studies have shown that we can cut the number of sick days by 20%.”