NanoTouch Materials

Image via NanoTouch Materials

After research was published claiming that touchscreens on airport self check-in kiosks play host to an unusually large number of bacteria, NanoTouch Materials decided to create a solution to help put travelers’ minds at rest.

NanoTouch Materials, the company that created self-cleaning liners for TSA security bins, is now manufacturing a transparent self-cleaning film for touchscreens. The product was developed in response to a “Germs at the Airport” study conducted by insurancequotes.com, which found that self check-in kiosks contain 253,857 bacteria or colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch, compared to the 172 CFU typically found on a toilet seat.

While the film is not yet being used in the air, there are multiple use cases for the product in the aircraft cabin too – the lavatory flush button, for example, which was found to contain 95,145 CFU per square inch. And what about the touchscreens on the seatback in-flight entertainment systems? With a 12”x 18” sheet of film retailing at US$19.95, co-founder of NanoTouch Materials Dennis Hackemeyer suggests installing the film on smaller screens could cost as little as $4-5 for each one.

As well as at airport check-in kiosks, the film is already being used on printers in UPS Retail Stores and on customer-facing tablets in the lobby at Select Bank and at various healthcare facilities. In each case, Hackemeyer says the film should be cleaned with a microfiber cloth soaked in soap and water every week “to help the technology do its job,” and should be replaced every three-six months.

The self-cleaning film was created in NanoTouch Materials’ new Center for Innovation in Smart Materials at the New London Technology Park in Forest, Virginia, which will be used to further broaden the company’s smart materials portfolio.

Self check-in kiosks contain 253,857 bacteria or colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch, compared to the 172 CFU typically found on a toilet seat.

Hackemeyer says his team is already working on a solution for elevator buttons, and that a similar material is also being tested for use with “other hardware at business sites, including airports, that is used to garner traveler survey or customer satisfaction responses/data.” The company also recently released its first consumer product, CellDefense, which provides self-cleaning bumper feet for phones and tablets to prevent them from making contact with surfaces.

All NanoTouch Materials’ self-cleaning surfaces are accompanied by a dome sticker to be applied to somewhere on the device so users know it’s a NanoSeptic Self-Cleaning Surface. Hackemeyer believes making the product visible creates a “Halo” effect, wherein people then assume the rest of the facility in question is also cleaner.

Now that Yelp has taken its LIVES program national – which displays restaurants’ health inspection scores on its company pages – Hackemeyer guesses it won’t be long until the same information is available for airports too, making a conscious effort around cleanliness even more important.

NanoTouch Materials is now in the process of finalizing its program for airports, “which will probably include a recycling service where we send a new batch of bins with the mats and handle skins already installed. The airport then ships us the old bins which we clean and prepare for the next round,” Hackemeyer confirms.