LG Electronics is working on an autonomous robot that uses ultraviolet light to disinfect what the South Korean tech giant calls "high-touch, high-traffic areas".
In an announcement this week, LG announced it would roll out the technology to retail, education, hospitality and corporate customers in the United States beginning early next year.
In a statement, Roh Kyu-chan, Head of Robots at LG's Business Solutions Company, said, "This autonomous UV robot comes at a time when hygiene is a top priority for hotel guests, students and restaurant customers."
"Customers in the contactless ecosystem we are facing now will expect a higher level of hygiene," said Roh.
According to LG, its robot will use UV-C light. There are three main types of UV radiation: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C.
The US Food and Drug Administration has described the latter as "a well-known disinfectant for air, water and non-porous surfaces".
Regarding the current pandemic, the FDA notes that there is currently "limited published data on the wavelength, dose, and duration of UVC radiation required to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus".
For many people around the world, concerns about cleanliness and hygiene have increased due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is also debate within the scientific community about the risk of inanimate object transmission.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on their website, "It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on and then their own Touches her mouth, her own nose, or her own eyes. "
However, it adds, "The spread from touching surfaces is not considered a common way of spreading COVID-19." Most commonly, the virus spreads through close contact between people, according to the CDC.
LG Electronics is one of many large organizations and companies developing technologies that focus on UV-C as a disinfectant.
In October, Transport for London announced that over 200 devices that use ultraviolet light to disinfect surfaces will be installed on London's extensive underground network.
TfL said the technology will be deployed on the handrails of 110 escalators over a period of several weeks.
According to the transport body, the device uses a "small dynamo" to generate electricity from the movement of the handrail, which in turn powers the UV lamp that is used to disinfect its surface.
Signify – a major player in the lighting industry – is now offering a so-called "desk lamp" for sale in selected Asian countries. The "lamp" can be used to disinfect rooms in houses.
Look no hands
While some are turning to UV light to address concerns about cross-contamination and virus spread, others are trying to put in place systems that could alter the way you physically interact with public spaces.
Even before the pandemic, movement-activated taps and toilets were introduced in heavily frequented transport hubs such as train stations and airports.
GEZE UK, which specializes in technologies related to doors, windows and security, committed itself to the bathroom issue at the beginning of this month and declared that it had developed a so-called "hands-free toilet door kit".
The system, which uses sensors and is based on "contactless activation", can be connected to the outside communal door of a public toilet.
This ensures that "those who leave the washroom do not have to touch the door after washing their hands".