The Kansas City-area digital signage solutions firm Keywest Technology has started marketing a copper-infused antimicrobial film – called NanoShield – its makers claim will self-disinfect something like a touchscreen in less than 15 minutes.
NanoShield uses copper nanotechnology, Keywest says, to reduce viruses and bacteria by more than 99.99 percent on digital signage, surfaces and kiosk touchscreens in places such as schools, universities, healthcare facilities, airports, retail spaces, entertainment venues and more. This antimicrobial film with NanoShield technology is independent lab verified to be effective against coronavirus, influenza, norovirus, staphylococcus and e.coli, lasting for 12 months.
The thinking here is that this would make interactive displays safer for public use and ease the concerns of consumers.
The tech is from Nanoveu Limited, a two-year-old public company based in Singapore and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The core technology is based around copper, which is well-known as having some degree of anti-microbial capabilities. You can read endlessly about anti-microbials here.
Copper nanotechnology, says Keywest, is the key to NanoShield’s self-disinfection. NanoShield produces electrically charged copper ions that attach to viruses and bacteria altering their structure, stopping the way they work.
Disinfecting products have become even more important in cleaning protocols during the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders have adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cleaning protocols to stop disease transmission, yet public areas are high-touch environments with visitors using self-serve kiosks and touchscreens to do business and get information.
In a classic supply and demand scenario, the increasing cost of cleaning supplies in addition to the man hours required for cleaning will increase budgets, especially when calculated over the course of the pandemic. NanoShield’s disinfecting technology reduces quantity of supplies and time to follow cleaning protocols, making it a cost-efficient alternative.
“With the pandemic facing us, industry experts are exploring viable solutions to interactive signage. Our society, and our customers, have adopted our technology to help create high-quality, intuitive, efficient operations,” says Koytt Nichols, president of Keywest Technology. “From schools or healthcare facilities who share laptops or tablets to hotels or airports who have automated check-in kiosks – NanoShield can keep operations in place, while keeping end users safe.”
The film has an adhesive backing and is sold in different thickness levels, and is one meter wide. It can also be custom cut to screen sizes.
Stating the blindingly obvious, I am no scientist and can’t say if this film is any different from other anti-microbial films that were already on the market. The basic idea of an anti-microbial film is that it inhibits the growth of a pathogen, and if it can’t grow, it eventually dies.
Generally, tests say it can take 12 to 72 hours for a pathogen to die right off when exposed to these films, the time varying by pathogen.So if the screen is “infected” it would clean itself in anywhere from 15 minutes to three days.
The challenge, of course, is that retailers and service providers put touchscreen products in place with the intention that they’ll be used much more frequently than every 15 minutes, never mind every three days. So if someone who has COVID-19 uses the touch display, and someone else walks up and uses it 10 minutes later, the transmission risk is still there.
With all the misinformation out there in this utter shit show of a political and cultural environment, it’s hard to know what to trust. But renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is at least quoted as saying transmission from touching inanimate surfaces is conceivable but very unlikely. “It can occur,” Fauci reportedly said on Instagram Live, “but it’s a very minor component of transmission.”
The Holy Grail, I am told, is some kind of mechanical kill product that clobbers COVID-19 droplets on contact, providing instant, ongoing protection. But that, to my knowledge, does not exist.
So, I think the reasonable point of view on this and other anti-microbial products out there is that it is another layer of protection and assurance to consumers, but not THE answer.
My own point of view on all this has evolved this year based on a lot of discussion and reading.
First, while self-service touchscreens present a contagion risk, it presents less of a risk than one-to-one contact between staff and the public.
Second, touchscreens usage is a really obvious moment when people are touching a surface, and my safe guess is people are more attuned to sanitizing/hand-washing after using that screen than when they are moving around other parts of a store or office. So having hand sanitizer readily available at the interactive station makes sense, as a service but also as a visible reminder.
I haven’t seen it in my now-very-limited travels, but it would seem to make sense to have a call to action message at the end of a screen transaction that suggests to users that they sanitize their hands, now that they’re done.
The Irish firm Kastus also markets anti-microbial nano film for touchscreens, and makes some of the same assertions about efficacy. But in an admittedly quick pass through its website I don’t see the company talking about the time it takes to “kill” a virus.
In addition to our proven efficacy against surface bacteria and human coronavirus, Kastus®patented coating tech has now been independently verified by Eurolabs to block 99.6% of the toughest viruses on treated surfaces
Based on surrogate virus testing Following ASTM E1053 method pic.twitter.com/duZvLNdsiH— KASTUS (@Kastus) August 24, 2020
TSItouch, which sells touch overlays, has been through CEO Gary Mundrake vocal and honest about the implications of the virus for the business. This is a good piece that includes tips and some perspective.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.