Does your job require you to move from workstation to workstation on a regular basis? Does your nursing station have only one computer terminal? Is all the experimental data input via one interface? If the answer to any of these questions is in the affirmative, then Vioguard thinks its self-cleaning keyboard system might be just what you need to keep your PC safe from harm. By flooding the input device with germ-killing ultra-violet light for 90 seconds, Vioguard claims that nasty microbes will cease to exist and so reduce the risk of users inadvertently spreading infection.
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A study last year commissioned by consumer champions Which? Magazine concluded that "computer keyboards can host more harmful bacteria than an average toilet seat." During tests, one keyboard was found to be home to 150 times the recommended limit of bacteria.
Imagine if such keyboards were being shared by doctors and nurses in a busy hospital who, after keying in some data, then go on to treat your flesh wound. The prevalence of healthcare associated infections would certainly lend ammunition to the call for something better than the current manual cleaning methods used in such environments.
A floodlit solution
Vioguard suggests that its UVKB50 self-cleaning keyboard may help. The keyboard and trackpad sit on a mechanism which withdraws into a light-sealed enclosure when the input device is not being used. Once inside it is then flooded with germicidal ultra-violet light (UV-C: 254 nm wavelength), which is generated by two 25-watt fluorescent lamps and distributed evenly over the surface of the trapped keyboard by a reflector and diffuser.
LEDs indicate to the user if the device has been safely disinfected, but the cleaning process can be interrupted at any time as urgent use dictates. To bring the keyboard out of its hidey-hole, a user merely waves a hand across an infra-red sensor and out it pops. Vioguard claims that the UVKB50 can kill up to 99.9 percent of nasties in less than 90 seconds, including MRSA and mold.
Cleaning is undertaken either when the keyboard is not in use or at the press of a button. Being plug and play, no extra hardware or software should be required and, when not in cleaning mode, the device behaves just like a standard keyboard and trackpad.
The company is introducing the product to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) 91st annual meeting this week in Toronto. Although already available in Canada, Vioguard is currently awaiting FDA clearance for sale in the US (expected early 2010).
What price cleanliness?
At USD$899, it's unlikely that your average consumer will be so afraid of microbes that the Vioguard keyboard becomes next season's must-have computer accessory, but stranger things have happened. This kind of product will most likely find a home in the healthcare sector, in laboratories and even in restaurants and hotels, hopefully leading to a downturn in associated infections for Joe Public.
More information is available from Vioguard.
Watch the following short demonstration: