With The Positive Collective, The Better India’s COVID-19 coverage is available to regional language publications for free. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Throughout the day, we frequently touch our eyes, nose and mouth. In fact, according to some studies, we touch our face about 23 times an hour.
Following this, if you use a bottle of hand sanitiser, and then somebody else touches its nozzle, there is a possibility of cross-contamination. While this wouldn’t be a big deal otherwise, in the post-COVID world, it has become imperative to ensure that hands remain clean and hygienic throughout the day.
Responding to this requirement, a Noida-based firm called Riot Labz worked with the Centre for Fire Explosive & Environment Safety (CFEES), a laboratory operating under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to manufacture a product called OakMist, which is a contact-less dispenser spraying alcohol-based hand sanitiser solution. Or in other words, a hand-free ‘mist’ sanitiser, that prevents any chance of cross-contamination and wastage of water.
At present, all government offices and residences of notable personnel, including the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the PMO, Supreme Court, Ministry of Home Affairs, among others have been equipped with OakMist.
From Prototype to Production
Prior to developing these OakMist units, Riot Labz had worked with CFEES on other projects as well.
However, when the design for a sanitiser dispenser unit first came on 15 April from CFEES with the requirement to develop a prototype immediately, the founders—Varun Gupta, Shishir Gupta and Nithin K David—decided to work on one from the confines of their home using whatever devices that were available to them ranging from electronic sensors to pumps drawn out from an aquarium.
“To develop a legitimate prototype, however, we needed permission to get out of our homes. So, we sent them our first shabbily-developed prototype showing them that making a more robust device was indeed possible. Once we got the DRDO’s approval, we had permission to open our factory partially. In three days, which included barely any sleep, our team developed a final version of the prototype and installed two units at the DRDO headquarters. After using it for a few days, the higher-ups at DRDO said that this is the kind of unit they needed to prevent cross-contamination,” says Nithin, speaking to The Better India.
“Eventually, we got the go-ahead to manufacture this at scale. We went from prototype development to factory production in over a week, which is unheard of in our industry, but this was an emergency requirement. Initially, we were manufacturing 100-150 units per day, but now we have scaled up to 1,000 units a day with our factory in Noida,” he adds.
How does it work?
“The product is based on water mist aerator technology. The unit operates without contact and is activated through an ultrasonic sensor. A single fluid nozzle with a low flow rate is used to generate aerated mist to dispense the hand rub sanitiser. This sanitises the hands with minimum wastage. Using an atomiser, only 5-6 ml sanitiser is released for 5 seconds in one operation, and it gives the full cone spray over both palms so that disinfection operation of hands is complete,” says the press release issued by the firm earlier this week.
Nithin goes on to add that all you need to do is place your open palms under the unit and it starts spraying sanitiser.
“Following which, you keep rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds till it evaporates. It’s effortless to use and install since you can hang it on the wall by drilling two screws. Also, you don’t have to keep checking the unit to see whether there is enough sanitiser. We have indicators on the unit to let you know when to refill. The sanitiser comes out of a nozzle, which operates at high pressure and thus creates a mist. Any liquid hand sanitiser with more than 70% alcohol can be used to refill this unit. Nonetheless, I must emphasise that it has to be free-flowing liquid and not a gel-based sanitiser,” informs Nithin.
With a 5-litre capacity that releases 5-6 ml of the sanitiser, these units aren’t meant for domestic use, but for hospitals and large organisations, where a large number of users are going to use it at a high frequency.
Priced at Rs 12,990, the firm has taken orders from private hospitals as well, where a majority of their orders are coming from, alongside other private companies as well.
For The COVID-19 Battle
Established in 2015, Riot Labz was initially developing products for air conditioning control using IoT.
Today, they make products like smart plugs and smart remotes, beside a device for water tank management which will measure the amount of water in your tank and switch your pump on or off based on whether you have a municipal supply or underground supply. With the ongoing public health emergency, however, the firm decided to expand the scope of its product development and join the collective effort in managing COVID-19.
“India’s fight against COVID-19 can only be won by adopting healthy healthy habits, starting with better hygiene. Riot Labz is taking this innovation across the length and breadth of the country, and hopefully we have played our part in this fight,” concludes Shishir.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)