Updated: July 23, 2020 6:53:41 pm
For the past one week, ever since she has acquired a UV wand, Delhi-based advertising professional Pallavi Chaudhary has been moving around with the portable gadget in her handbag. “I got to know about it through friends in San Jose (US), who say they have been using for a month and find it quite handy,” she says, adding, “I take it to grocery stores for quick sanitisation of the supplies before I bring them home, and also use it on the face mask, car keys and phone.”
Priced a little above Rs 3,000, the IFITech Handheld UV-C Light Wand Steriliser has become Chaudhary’s magic wand to fight the corona fear, even though she is not 100 per cent sure of its efficacy and still occasionally dips the grocery supplies in baking soda and water mixture before using them.
With COVID-19 infections on the rise in India, and liquid sanitisation being not all that easy or doable at all times, ultraviolet (UV) sanitisation is gaining more ground. The market is flooded with several new products that guarantee making not only surfaces but the entire atmosphere virus-free. Besides electronic giants such as Philips, Samsung and Godrej that have launched UV-sanitiser boxes and sticks, even homegrown companies, startups and technological institutes have jumped onto the bandwagon.
Last week, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) came out with ‘Shudh’, which promises to disinfect an entire room in 15 minutes. The smartphone operated Handy Ultraviolet Disinfection Helper has six UV lights of 15 watts each that can be individually monitored from a distance. Amandeep Singh, part of the team of developers, says, “In the wake of COVID-19, people are scared to touch any object with the fear of being infected. At the same time, liquid disinfection has yielded quite negative effects. Shudh can disinfect a room in just 15 minutes, and can also be used to prevent infection in hospitals, hotels, malls, offices and schools.”
Meanwhile, Rajiv Lunkad, principal promoter of Optol Technologies, which recently came out with Germiscan, claiming it to be India’s first UV-C LED-based handheld steriliser, says the prospective market for such products is broad — right from household use to hospitals and the hotel industry. “Since it is a portable product, which can be charged like a phone, the user can carry it to the market or workplace. It can be taken in a flight as well,” he adds. The wand costs around Rs 6,000 and can be customised by the company for use on escalators, large surfaces, travel baggage and trolleys. Lunkad says, the team is trying to come up with a more affordable mobile version.
Godrej has also launched the UV Case – an ultraviolet sanitiser box, which can sanitise cash, jewellery, mobile phones, masks and PPE Kits. It comes in three sizes – 15L, 30L and 54L – and starts at Rs 9,000.
Worldwide, UV-C sterilisation is one of the most established scientific methods for the dry killing of pathogens, viruses and bacteria. The technology requires just the right amount of exposure of the objects to UV light rays. Thus, experts caution consumers to only use products that are certified by competent laboratories and authorities, given the potential health hazards and photo-biological risks from the machines that could lead to light sensitivity issues.
Mehernosh Pithawalla, vice-president, Godrej Security Solutions, says, “Today, health security has become a priority for everyone. There is an increased need for a product that would sanitise anything that has been brought home from external environments.” He adds, “We estimate the total health security and safety market this year would be around Rs 200 crore, and seek to capture at least 20 per cent share.”
Last month, smartphone giant Samsung introduced a UV Steriliser with wireless charging. The gadget was manufactured by Samsung C&T, a partner of Samsung Mobile Accessory Partnership Program (SMAPP), and is available via select online and retail stores. It helps “to disinfect smartphones, earbuds and glasses in just 10 minutes, wherever you are”, the company claims, adding that the UV Sterilizer effectively kills up to 99% of bacteria and germs, according to tests by two independent certification institutes, Intertek and SGS.
Adding to the list of homegrown UV devices is a Bengaluru-based startup, which has come up with CoronaOven, is a portable UV disinfection chamber. Developed by Log9Materials, a nanotechnology company formed by IIT Roorkee alumni, the device can disinfect fruits and vegetables, kitchen utensils, clothes, slippers as well as PPEs. The 33-litre device costs ₹12,999 and can be ordered from their official website.
Orient Electric Limited, part of the diversified CK Birla Group, has come up with UV Sanitech, a box-shaped appliance that comes with a pre-set electronic timer, and kills viruses, bacteria and fungi on the surfaces of all inanimate objects in four minutes. Rakesh Khanna, MD & CEO, Orient Electric Ltd, says, “There is a latent need and growing awareness for hygiene products among consumers in the wake of this pandemic… For us, this is not just about launching a need-of-the-hour product, but a conscious effort in making people more aware of the need to maintain hygiene.” The gadget, which retails on Amazon and Flipkart, is priced around Rs 12,000.
Faridabad’s APL Machinery has also indigenously developed “UV-C Disinfectant System”, with five different products, namely UV-C BOX, UV-C Chambers, UV-C handheld disinfectant, UV-C Disinfection Conveyor and UV-C blaster. “We are also offering tailor-made solutions and customers can get these UV systems customised in various sizes,” says CP Paul, Chief Managing Director, APL Machinery Private Limited.
Lifestyle accessories brand DailyObjects has also launched what it calls India’s first UV–C pocket steriliser, to help “disinfect steering wheels, lift buttons, crockery, switchboards, car seats, clothes and even items in your hotel room in 10 seconds, 3 minutes”. Priced around Rs 2,000, The Wield-UV-C Pocket Sterilizer is portable and battery-operated. Pankaj Garg, CEO and Founder, DailyObjects, says, “While regular hand washing and maintaining social distancing are some effective ways to avoid catching viruses, disinfecting and cleaning our daily use items has become even more necessary.”
Aarati Barooah, who runs a salon in South Delhi, says, “We have been using a UV steriliser box by Philips for haircut and foot spa appliances for many years. Now, before the salon reopens fully, we are going to equip our staff with portable UV wands so that they can sanitise the seats and other surfaces before patrons can use them. The best part about these gadgets is that there is no recurring cost and no spoiling clothes or skin.”
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