Hand hygiene is important for everyone during the pandemic, and even more so for people who are in public environments, such as schools and hospitals. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Israeli company Soapy has reinvented the sink as an AI-enhanced, internet connected, eco-friendly micro-station. The features help hand washers stay clean according to standards set by the World Health Organization.
“We have drones, self-driving cars, and so many other things supporting our environment,” said company founder and CEO Max Simonovsky. “What we found is that when you go back to something as basic as hand hygiene, you don’t have any smart tools to support you.”
Every time the Soapy station is used, step-by-step guidance is provided. The sink also tracks how you perform and informs you in real time. The system provides an instant stream of warm water along with a special proprietary hand soap. The advanced design enables the use of 95% less water and 60% less soap than when using a regular sink, based on the company’s description. Customized versions of the Soapy sink offer user recognition, temperature measurement and instant high body temperature notifications (important for the COVID-19 period). A similar platform is available for hand sanitizing gel.
The decision to install Soapy at Sheba was made by Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, head of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, and the physician responsible for overseeing the testing and implementation of all new COVID-19 technologies at Sheba. Both Soapy systems are already in use at the coronavirus wards of Sheba Medical Center, as well as at various other hospital locations.
“Sheba installed the units… to provide staff with a simple and supportive tool to make sure they can sanitize their hands – to keep employees and patients safe,” Simonovsky shared in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
“One of the main risks in the coronavirus department is not coronavirus – the patients already have it – but the other diseases or infections that might complicate the treatment of those patients,” Simonovsky said. “We want to make sure that if you have someone going into the department with another disease that it will not be spread.”
The other significant feature of this high-tech sink is real-time feedback. Doctors and other staff receive feedback that reports if they have washed their hands well, so they can feel more confident about it. Additionally, since the sinks measure the user’s temperature multiple times while washing, someone who might have come into work healthy but started to develop symptoms throughout the day could be caught earlier – before he or she has a chance to spread the virus.
Also, after the system’s unique sensor collects all the data, it is sent to the “Soapy Wisdom” cloud for analysis. Ultimately, an evaluation of how the facility is doing will be generated so the hand cleanliness of the whole site can be gauged.
“It’s about understanding what you cannot see in terms of disease and spread of disease from your hands to everyone around you,” Simonovsky said.
Simonovsky and his partner Alex Orlovsky were inspired to found Soapy based on a conversation Simonovsky had with his young daughter about the importance of hand hygiene. This was before the coronavirus pandemic had even started.
Early Soapy prototypes were designed to fit schools in rural areas that had minimal access to clean water. The sinks were intended to help prevent child morbidity and mortality. But the company quickly learned that proper hand hygiene challenged many more facilities, such as geriatric care centers, the food industry and schools.
After three years of research and four prototypes, the modern Soapy micro-stations were born. They are currently implemented in 12 countries, and since the global pandemic began, Simonovsky said that business has boomed to the point where it is difficult to keep up with demand.