Oscar Wilde once remarked, “We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.” We may be entering a new age where the inverse becomes true. With both public institutions and private workspaces alike looking to implement new sets of best practices regarding hygiene for the sake of safety, technologies designed to limit the proliferation of infection by touch will no doubt become more prevalent – something like this self-sanitizing door handle equipped with UV light to kill germs with every use.
Spurred by lasting memories of the SARS pandemic that scarred Asian populations in 2003, a pair of University of Hong Kong graduates engineered a door handle designed to self-sterilize using a chemical reaction initiated by a powdered photocatalytic (titanium dioxide) on the handle’s surface. When exposed to UV light, the thin coating activates a chemical reaction resulting in measured reduction of microbes by 99.8% across its surface.
Equally important, the self-contained glass door handle is powered kinetically, its internal generator wholly powered by the movement of the door swinging open and closed, exemplifying an ingenious design ideal for public spaces where use and maintenance would be a concern. It’s also a lot more compact than existing solutions.
The designers, students Sum Ming Wong and Kin Pong Li, won the Hong Kong James Dyson Award 2019 for their concept, one that undoubtedly will be revisited as the world looks for effective precautionary systems to curb infections of today and tomorrow.