How AR can help keep hospitals clean

Whilst augmented reality has achieved notoriety for gimmicks such as Pokemon Go, it has also been making interesting headway in a more meaningful sense in recent years, whether in training surgeons or supporting the construction industry.

A German company is hoping to bring AR to the commercial cleaning industry.  The company, called AR-Check, aims to use augmented reality to provide professional cleaners with additional information about the facilities they’re working in.  For instance, they could see a progress report showing parts of the room they’ve cleaned, with the potential for gamification to be used to help motivate them.

What’s more, this data could also be fed back to managers so that they can monitor progress and gain a longer-term perspective on the cleanliness of their facility.  This could be especially useful in hospitals and other care facilities where infection control is such a big issue.

Hospital infections

It’s a problem that official data suggests costs the National Health Service approximately £1 billion per year, with approximately 300,000 patients per year suffering from infections caught whilst in a hospital.

Of course, whilst the size of the challenge is considerable, the potential for this kind of technology to solve it has to be looked at objectively.  At the moment the technology is merely at a conceptial stage, and the company need significant funding to develop a prototype, which then needs to be tested and developed before reaching the market.

It’s interesting, however, as augmented reality does appear to be finally finding some interesting applications, and the hope has to be that the supporting technology will drop in price as more uses are found for it.

For the time being, there are a number of other interesting technologies aiming to tackle hospital infections.  For instance, Vital Vio provide disinfectant lighting to hospitals and restaurants.  The service utilizes a form of disinfectant lighting, which the makers believe will reduce the kind of harmful microrganisms that are so rife in our hospitals by as much as 99.9%.

Taking a slightly different tack are the Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute Ltd (NIRI).  The Leeds based organization have developed antibacterial push pads and pull handles to be fitted to doors in hospitals to try and halt the spread of infection.  The hope is that it bolsters the infection control within hospitals by providing an extra layer of protection for the time between someone washing their hands and using a door.

The Surfaceskin pads self-disinfect themselves each time the door is opened.  The pads release a small amount of antibacterial solution via a micro-valved top sheet.  The pads are designed to kill many of the commonest germs present in hospitals, including MRSA and Norovirus.

Infections in hospital are a persistent concern, with a recent report suggesting that the cost is around $10 billion in the US alone.  It’s likely that none of these technologies will solve that on its own, but hopefully between them, they will make a real difference.

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