Editorial Feature

Tweaq Touch 1: The World’s First Smart Self-Cleaning Door Handle

Image Credit: Petr Smagin/Shutterstock.com

COVID-19 has generated a new public awareness and appreciation for hygiene, along with a necessity to innovate current disinfecting and cleaning methods. Swiss company Tweaq has taken hold of this opportunity with its latest development - the world’s first smart self-cleaning door handle.

Tweaq’s Touch 1 Door Handle

The Touch 1 door handle, set to be released in 2021, is designed to be easily fitted to “any standard door in less than 10 minutes” (Tweaq, 2020). The installation process has been made as consumer-friendly as possible, with no additional drilling or wiring needed. The Touch 1 handle has been designed so that it is as easy to fit as any other standard door handle.

How Does the Self-Disinfecting Door Handle Work?

The self-disinfecting door handle uses internal sensors and an external aluminum magnetic ring. The sensors are activated every time the door handle is used, triggering a signal to the printed circuit board (PCB) to initiate the disinfecting process.

Once activated, the PCB then triggers a small electrical engine inside the handle. This engine powers the external magnetic ring, which moves from the handle base to the end, and back to the base in under three seconds (Tweaq, 2020).

The magnetic ring is fitted with a disposable sponge, which is irrigated with an antibacterial solution. This disinfectant spreads across the handle with the magnetic ring’s movement, removing around 99.99% of bacteria and viruses present on the handle (Tweaq, 2020).

To further enhance its user-friendliness, the PCB also includes an IoT module to connect to Wi-Fi to send data to the included Tweaq app.

The app informs the user how much antibacterial solution is left in the refillable cartridge, along with how many times the door handle has been used.

Not only can this data be used to estimate the remaining lifespan of the cartridge (advertised to last around 1000 uses (Tweaq, 2020)), but can also be used in tandem with other Tweaq handles in the building to analyze which rooms are entered more frequently than others. This provides a more robust insight into which of them require more care when cleaning.

Upon asking about the motivation behind the Touch 1 Door Handle, CEO Giovanni Barilla responded:

Since starting on our quest a few years ago, our motivation has always been to help secure touch points in order to decrease the levels of transmission of bacteria and viruses. The innovation around combining an everyday item with technology was very exciting. We were even further motivated to bring a solution to the market that strikes not just in terms of design but also with IoT technology."

Furthermore, when asked where they wanted to see the company and its product in the next few years, Barilla said, "We want to be in locations for visitors to feel safe and comfortable. We want to help businesses prepare and excel for the world of tomorrow (Post COVID). We want to do this by starting with a product that is safeguarding employees and visitors and in turn helping businesses optimize their costs and keep track of their establishments."

The Importance of Touch 1 in a COVID-19 World

The product is for worldwide use in areas where the risk of infection is high. Public areas such as shopping centers and shared spaces are projected to have the most significant customers. These buildings, which can see hundreds of individuals, will be made significantly safer. Constant disinfecting of door handles dramatically reduces the chance of contracting a virus such as COVID-19 via surface contact.

This development is shown to be significant through the importance of track-and-trace in the battle against COVID-19.

Countries such as South Korea have shown how effective a robust track-and-trace system can be. However, contact tracing can be significantly more difficult in buildings with a high density of individuals.

Furthermore, COVID-19 survives on aluminum for up to eight hours (WebMD, 2020) and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days (BBC, 2020). This means a person can contract the sickness from a surface without ever coming into personal contact with any infected individuals.

Many other advancements follow the Touch 1 handle in COVID-19 disinfection technology across the world. In the San Diegan Sharp Grossmont Hospital, robots are used to disinfect coronavirus victims' rooms using UV light, reducing the amount of human contact possible. Meanwhile, South Korea has set up shelters with UV lights and temperature-sensing glass doors to detect fevers.

Future Competitors and Similar Technologies

Although Tweaq’s product is the first of its kind, a smart, self-disinfecting handle activated by touch, it is not the first self-disinfecting handle.

In late 2019, two students from the University of Hong Kong, Sum Ming Wong and Kin Pong Li, were awarded the James Dyson award for their invention - a self-sanitizing door handle, created in response to the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Wong and Li’s invention consisted of a glass UV lamp surrounded by a photocatalytic TiO2 film and capped with two aluminum fittings. The UV light, which is powered by a small generator, activates the film, converting the door's kinetic energy into electricity.

The efficiency of this conversion is not specified, but the UV light must be powered consistently for the TiO2 to provide its antibacterial effects.

As of writing this article, Wong and Li’s invention has not been commercialized. However, the student have expressed a desire to do so in the future.

A table comparing the two products can be found below.

 

 

Tweaq Touch 1 Door Handle

 

Wong and Li’s Self Sanitizing Door Handle

 

 

Disinfecting Method

 

Antibacterial solution, applied with a sponge.

 

Photocatalytic decontamination (TiO2 film activated with UV Light)

 

Method of Power

 

Electric Generator

(powered by Lithium-ion batteries)

 

Electrical Generator (converting EK of door’s movement into electricity)

 

 

Disinfection Efficiency

 

99.8% of Bacteria and viruses eliminated (TechSpot, 2019)

 

 

99.99% of Bacteria and viruses eliminated

 

Key Materials

 

Al

 

Al, Glass

 

Connectivity Possibility

 

Yes (data sent to app via IoT Module on PCB)

 

No

 

Commercial Release Date

 

July 2021

 

N/A

 

Price

 

£399 (Pre-order price £349) – One Set

 

£999 (Pre-order price £799) – Bundle of 3.

 

Further financial options available for a set larger than 10 doors, upon request.

 

 

N/A

 

Though Wong and Li’s design benefits from not requiring refillable cartridges to function, Tweaq has taken the possible waste caused by this into their business plan.

Rather than disposing of empty cartridges, the team encourages returning them to be refilled, providing additional offers and promotions for customers who opt to help recycle the component.

Tweaq wants to continue to innovate to create a safer world by integrating disinfection technology into everyday life and states, “there are a series of products in the pipeline that all share the same motivation around improving people’s lives to keep them safe and make life easier”.                        

References and Further Reading

Tweaq. (2020) [Online] Available at:
https://www.tweaq.co/
(Accessed 20th November 2020)

Keeping hospitals clean and safe. (2020) [Online] Sharp Health News. Available at: https://www.sharp.com/health-news/keeping-hospitals-clean-and-safe-video.cfm  
(Accessed 13th November 2020)

Lerman, R. (2020) Robot cleaners are coming, this time to wipe up your coronavirus germs. [Online] The Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/09/08/robot-cleaners-surge-pandemic/
(Accessed 14th November 2020)

Bus stop newest front in South Korea's coronavirus battle. (2020) [Online] MedicalXpress. Available at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-bus-front-south-korea-coronavirus.html
(Accessed 14th November 2020)

Agence France-Presse. (2020) South Korea installs anti-virus bus shelters with temperature sensors and UV lamps. [Online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/13/south-korea-installs-anti-virus-bus-shelters-with-temperature-sensors-and-uv-lamps
(Accessed 14th November 2020)

Cai, Y., Strømme, M., Welch, K. (2013) Photocatalytic Antibacterial Effects Are Maintained on Resin-Based TiO2 Nanocomposites after Cessation of UV Irradiation. Plos One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0075929

Steffen, A. D. (2019) Hong Kong James Dyson Award 2019: A Self-Sanitizing Door Handle. [Online] Intelligent Living. Available at: https://www.intelligentliving.co/hong-kong-james-dyson-award-2019-self-sanitizing-door-handle/
(Accessed 16th November 2020)

Aamir, H. (2019) Students Develop Self-Sanitizing Door Handle. [Online] Techspot. Available at: https://www.techspot.com/news/82276-students-develop-self-sanitizing-door-handle.html
(Accessed 16th November 2020)

Wong, S. M., Li, K. P. (2019) SELF SANITIZING DOOR HANDLE. [Online] The James Dyson Award. Available at: https://www.jamesdysonaward.org/en-US/2019/project/self-sanitizing-door-handle/
(Accessed 16th November 2020)

How Long Does the Coronavirus Live on Surfaces? (2020) [Online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/lung/how-long-covid-19-lives-on-surfaces
(Accessed 14th November 2020)

Gray, R. (2020) Covid-19: How long does the coronavirus last on surfaces? [Online] BBC. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200317-covid-19-how-long-does-the-coronavirus-last-on-surfaces
(Accessed 14th November 2020)

Thanks to Giovanni Barilla, Jamie Love, and the Tweaq team for taking the time to respond to our questions.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Written by

Terry Ventre

Terry is a recent graduate from the University of Liverpool, with a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. He has always had a passion for writing and studied Literature in English at Marlborough College at A level. Terry's dissertation at university related to medical engineering, where he built a test rig to analyze the material properties of soft robotic actuators to be used in a medical setting.  

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