Waterloo Region Record
April 11, 2017
The keyboards we touch multiple times every day are crawling with germs.
But Bothell tech company Vioguard has found a way to eliminate them, and, armed with FDA approval, the company is ready to bring its solution to market.
Vioguard started in 2008 after a group of Microsoft employees bought research the Redmond company had conducted on the use of ultraviolet light to eradicate the bacteria on keyboards.
After many rounds of development, Vioguard is preparing to start selling its self-cleaning keyboard. It features a small box, just slightly larger than the keyboard.
A press of a button sends the keyboard into the case. Inside, the keyboard gets hit with a kind of ultraviolet light, called UV-C. In 90 seconds, 99.99% of all bacteria and pathogens are eliminated.
The keyboard can also sense when it hasn't been in use for a few minutes and will automatically enter the case to start the disinfecting process.
The company is starting to sell the keyboard and case, with a combined cost of about $750 US, to health-care organizations, said CEO Dave Schultz.
It made the most sense to reach out to hospitals first, Schultz said, because of their critical need to prevent the spread of infection.
Eventually, the company hopes to expand marketing of its keyboards to offices and homes.
Vioguard raised $5 million US earlier this year from Imagen Capital Partners to manufacture the latest version of the keyboard technology and to expand its team. Vioguard now has 13 employees, and it expects to grow to about 20 by the end of the year.
Eventually, Schultz said, the technology will be used beyond keyboards: for shoes, pens, clipboards—really anything that carries bacteria.
"All of those problems can be helped with the basic technology of shining UV light on microbes," he said.
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