$1,200 'Hand Wash Coach' Device Exists Since We're All Bad at Hand Washing

From monitoring hand washing to adding pots and fuel to food delivery, restaurants have found new ways to manage coronavirus concerns.
Bettina Makalintal
Brooklyn, US
Photo by Maskot via Getty Images

As you've surely already heard amid the growing global concern regarding novel coronavirus, or COVID-2019, frequent and proper hand washing is among the main recommendations for preventing the spread of the disease. The keyword there is "proper," because as it turns out, plenty of people don't wash their hands correctlyif they even bother to wash them at all.

But if the finger-wagging reminders to wash our hands, and all the song cues to keep track of the CDC's advised 20 seconds of scrubbing, still aren't enough, well, here's a little more hand-holding—figuratively, that is. Enter the "Hand Wash Coach" device, which WHEC reported has been employed by at least one restaurant in the Rochester, New York area and which will provide timed, step-by-step instructions as people wash their hands. And lest you try to trick it, the Hand Wash Coach is watching.


With a reported cost of $1,200 per restaurant sink, the device not only gives timed guidance on when to wet, soap, rub, rinse, and dry, but it also tracks when each employee washes their hands; and how, using "optical sensors" to follow "hand-washing movements"; and it syncs to restaurant's attendance time clocks.

"It's important because hand transmission of pathogens is the number one vector which causes illnesses, and transmits pathogens which cause people to become sick," inventor and CEO of Food Service Monitoring Sam Trapani told WHEC, adding that the device and its monitor improve the quality and frequency of hand washing.

That our inability to properly hand wash has prompted the hand washing surveillance state feels like a red flag for all of us, but whether the Hand Wash Coach will help restaurant workers manage the coronavirus crisis seems unlikely since, according to WHEC, the device is still in testing.

The Hand Wash Coach aside, restaurants all over the world are figuring out novel ways to manage coronavirus concerns beyond recommendations that employees stay home if they're experiencing symptoms—a decision that's clearly still complicated by the financial challenges of losing hourly work and the lack of sick time for service industry workers.

In Japan, Hamazushi—one of the country's largest conveyor belt sushi joints—has put an end to its revolving sushi in order to give diners peace of mind, per SoraNews24. Chinese companies have turned to driverless cars, drones, and contact-less delivery amid growing demand for delivered food. In New York City, where Chinatown traffic has dropped significantly over the past few weeks, Eater has reported that hot pot restaurant Haidilao has launched a delivery service that will bring not only food but also a pot, portable stove, and butane fuel to people's homes, and GrubStreet spoke with one restaurant owner who will be taking employee's temperatures at the start of every shift.

Everyone takes their health-related anxiety out in different ways, but please, let us all just remember for our collective peace of mind to wash our goddamn hands, just as we learned as children. It's really, really, really not that hard.