A unique product developed in Gloucester which reminds people to wash or sanitise their hands is about to be launched across the world.
The Sanitiser Sentinel has been developed by entrepreneur engineer Vivian Blick, the man behind a number of commercially successful inventions over the last 20 years.
Timing is everything. Vivian began working on the unique product last year, well before Covid-19 began to make global headlines.
Now he’s awaiting the first shipment of 5,000 Sanitiser Sentinels after the product has undergone extensive testing in the UK, USA, South Africa and the Netherlands.
The Sanitiser Sentinel is a standalone unit which can be fixed above or close to a hand sanitiser or soap dispenser. When a person comes within range of the hand sanitiser or soap dispenser, its proximity sensor will cause a light to flash, and a recorded voice message reminds the person to wash or sanitise their hands.
The unit can be used to ensure that hand sanitisation and hand cleaning protocols are adhered to in any scenario and environment.
Despite working on the idea pre-Covid, lockdown in March slowed development of the prototype. “We got it into tooling and production as fast as we could, but the pandemic did slow things down,” said Vivian.
However, over the last few months several hundred sanitiser prototypes have been tested across the region, and the world. “Locally we have trialled the Sanitiser Sentinel in a physiotherapy practice, an NHS doctor’s surgery and hospital, among other locations,” Vivian added.
The investment in the product came from 58-year-old Vivian himself, despite having scaled back his design and development business with a view to retirement. “A friend first brought the basic idea to my attention, and I thought it was too good an idea to miss, so I’ve re-mortgaged my house because this is something I really believe in.”
Vivian is no mad inventor. He has had a highly successful career in product design and development. Having trained as an electronic engineer, before moving into management and completing an MBA, he spent 12 years as a developer, manufacturer and distributor of alternative energy consumer electronic products.
He developed an alternative way to power fragrance and sanitiser dispensers using artificial light, called “cold solar”. His dispensers store the energy from indoor lighting which can then be used to power their usage. “The devices are continually taking in energy from the artificial lights of washrooms, which are often on 24 hours a day. They use the energy stored in short bursts.”
His idea was bought by Rubbermaid, a global leader in the commercial cleaning industry. The patented LumeCel™ Technology is a touch-free dispenser that automatically delivers controlled amounts of soap or sanitizer to help reduce cross-contamination. The technology captures energy from any indoor or natural light source to power the rechargeable energy cell.
He has also designed all the electronics and software for a new electric vehicle charging system which is currently undergoing field trials in Oxford.
The pop-up charging hub, being developed by Urban Electric, is a new type of electric vehicle charging system designed to preserve the urban streetscape. Offering on-street electric vehicle charging, commercial production is planned for 2021.
Vivian’s electronics enable an automated retractable bollard to be stored under pavement when not in use, which can be remotely accessed by authorised users.
So what of his latest product the Sanitiser Sentinel? 5,000 won’t go very far if he’s going to sell it globally.
“The nature of any new concept is that we all think we will know what the consumer will need, but often that changes as they begin to use the product. We anticipate that small changes may be required as we further develop the product,” he said.
“The first few thousand should just be the start.”