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Problem statement:

In recent years bacterial strains of staph such as MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and viruses such Hepatitis and Influenza, as well as other infections have become more common in schools, child care facilities and fitness centers. Many of these organizations do not have the equipment, staff or procedures to prevent and kill these highly contagious bacteria and viruses that can endanger the health of these infants and students.

Wrestling mats, weight rooms, locker rooms, and shower floors have become a focus of concern since they are often shared by multiple users who are sweating from exercise and end up sharing and spreading the contaminated bio materials with their skin-to-skin and skin-to-contaminated-ground contact.

Added to this are participants who use the bathroom and bring back additional bacterial contaminants on their shoes. The organizations that do address this issue and have an effective plan to prevent or attack these bacteria and viruses often do so with a variety of chemicals (including bleaches, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and chloramines) which can themselves cause skin reactions or can react with the water / sweat that is often present in this environment to produce unhealthy gases or liquids, and can accelerate the ability of bacteria to grow more resistant to these chemicals. Even when used according to directions, organizational cleaning procedures can be infrequent, often inefficient, and ineffective.

Solution:

The Germbot™ is a battery powered robotic sanitizer that could be used multiple times daily to kill dangerous bacteria and disable the reproductive ability of viruses - thereby improving the sanitation, health, and safety of the floor surfaces used by infants, students and fitness center members.

We have combined the existing proven technologies of battery powered robots with the proven bacteria and virus disrupting properties of UV (Ultra Violet) light to provide a low cost, highly effective, and highly portable sanitization robot.

UV light for sanitization kills bacteria by and disrupts the DNA structures of viruses. This technology has been in use for many years in medical environments such as operating rooms and similar clean room areas. The Germbot™ can be used on mats, weight room floors, low carpets, linoleum, cement and other floor surfaces.

Product history:

UV (Ultra Violet) light has a shorter wavelength than the normal light that humans can see. It is what we blame when people get sunburned which increases the risk of skin cancer. In moderate exposure UV can be beneficial to health since it stimulates the production of vitamin D and can kill harmful microorganisms.

UV (Ultra Violet) light has been used for cleaning and sanitization in the medical field for over 100 years (the 1903 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Niels Finsen for his use of UV against Tuberculosis bacteria). UV produces short wavelengths of light that damage and kill micro-organisms. Instead of using costly and sometimes dangerous chemicals - UV light can be a great alternative to kill bacteria on floors – especially when there is no exposure to humans.

Product description:

The Germbot™ is a combination of the existing proven technologies of battery powered floor robots with bacteria and virus disrupting UV (Ultra Violet) light. UV light produces short wavelengths of light that damage and kill micro-organisms. To prevent the UV light from causing potential harm to people, the Germbot™ has several safety features including a design that provides for a recessed UV bulb, skirting to direct the UV light downward, and a trigger switch that turns the unit off if it is picked up.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions:

The Germbot™ uses a standard IRobot Roomba robot that has been modified by replacing the cleaning brush and dust collection system with a UV (Ultra Violet) light system. The enclosed IRobot Roomba user manual and quick start guides can be used to help set up your Germbot™ unit – keeping in mind that the Germbot™ does not collect dust or do traditional vacuum type cleaning.

Is UV light harmful?

It certainly can be harmful to humans that are exposed to UV light. Anyone who has ever suffered a sunburn has experienced how UV light can be harmful to skin. UV light will increase the risk of skin cancer with increased exposure (as shown by tanning bed restrictions in many states). To reduce the chance that UV light from the Germbot™ will cause harm, this product has safety features including a design that provides for a recessed UV bulb, product design to direct the UV light downward, and a trigger switch that turns the unit off if it is picked up.

What happens if a unit is damaged / broken?

The Germbot™ unit itself is fairly rugged but as with all electronic devices – it should be handled with care. The most breakable part of the Germbot™ is the glass bulb which is set up into the main part of the Germbot™ in a recessed area protected by a metal frame. This bulb is custom made with special features for bulb protection but does contains small amounts of mercury (similar to the amounts in neon light bulbs or Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)). The same procedure that you would use to do a cleanup of a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL) should be used in the unlikely event of the breaking of a Germbot™ light bulb. Instructions from the EPA can be found on line at: http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl.

Can this unit be used with water and wet surfaces?

It is not recommended. UV light works best when it lands directly on the surface (this is why it works better on short carpet than on long carpet. The UV light cannot cover every part of the surface of long / thick carpet fibers nearly as well as it does for the tops of short carpet fibers. The Germbot™ can be used on floors such as a locker or shower room or on wrestling / tumbling mats when they are dry and clean.

Can this unit completely eliminate the use of chemical mat / floor cleaners?

We position the use of the Germbot™ to reduce the use of chemicals instead of eliminate them. The addition of a Germbot™ to your cleaning procedure can provide for cleaner surfaces. Because the Germbot™ is easy to use and can be used multiple times each day (after it has been recharged) it can enhance your efforts to keep these areas cleaner and help make sure that the cleaning really gets done in your facility.

Who developed the Germbot™ and why?

The Germbot™ is the result of several years of work by an Iowa youth wrestling coach to help keep his athletes healthy by killing bacteria and minimizing the spread of viruses on wrestling mats and floor surfaces. UV is not a new “cleaning” technology and has been used in the medical field to kill bacteria for over 100 years. In retrospect, it’s hard to understand why this technology has not been developed and used before.

Does the Germbot™ kill all bacteria and viruses?

We expect the Germbot™ to kill a significant percentage of bacteria and disrupt a significant percentage of viruses. The effectiveness of UV light depends on the wavelength of the light and the length of time the light is projected on the surface. We are targeting the Germbot™ at the most common / dangerous types of bacteria and viruses typically found in a school or child care environment.

How much does the Germbot™ cost to purchase?

The Germbot™ is not being offered for sale at this time. Our plan is to rent the units on a monthly basis at a cost of only $99 per month. The Germbot™ is a new invention and we expect to be making significant changes to the units as we receive feedback when they are used by our customers.

Is the Germbot™ safe to use?

To prevent the UV light from causing potential harm to people, the Germbot™ has several safety features including a design that provides for a recessed UV bulb, skirting to direct the UV light downward, and a trigger switch that turns the unit off if it is picked up.

We have not had our attorneys develop a mumbo jumbo agreement warning that the Germbot™ could be hazardous to your health if you continually smash it into your head into it or similar nonsense warnings. With the lawsuit crazy world we live in, it’s possible that we will do this in the future. For now, if you don’t do stupid things with the Germbot™ it should be safe for you to use.

The Germbot™ works on, but is not limited to:

The Germbot™ works on most surfaces we have tried it on. It will work better on hard flat surfaces than on deep soft materials. It may not work on some thick mats that are very soft without modification of the drive wheels. The light needs to land directly on the surface to be effective.

How should I prepare an area – such as a child care room or tumbling mat for Germbot™ use?

The floor should be dry and items like clothing or toys should be picked up off the floor. If it is a large room – you can use one or more of the virtual walls (a small unit about the size of a coffee cup that sends out an invisible beam that the Germbot™ will not cross) to contain the area that the Germbot™ will be working in. A virtual wall can also be used to keep the Germbot™ from bumping into a pet’s water dish or similar item. For more info on the virtual wall – refer to the IRobot Roomba manual included with this unit.

Germbot

Can the Germbot™ damage surfaces?

The Germbot™ uses UV light and just like sunlight can break down and discolor a surface over time; the Germbot™ may do the same thing. This is much more likely to happen if the unit is turned on and it gets stuck in one area and fails to shut itself off. We don’t think this is very likely but it is possible – so we recommend that a user keeps an eye on the unit when it is in use. Without specifically testing we will not know the impact on different surfaces.

The life cycle of a tumbling or wrestling mat may be shortened by using the Germbot™ depending on how often the UV light is used and it may lengthen the life of these mats by allowing you to use fewer cleaning and sanitizing chemicals which can also shorten the life of your mats. Only long term use will provide the data to determine this impact.

How do I clean a Germbot™ after use?

We recommend using a germicide to clean the wheels and bottom parts of the Germbot™ that come into contact with the floor. This should be used on a regular basis depending on how often you use the unit. Use normal precautions with the cleaning – use disposable towels, dispose of them carefully, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to remove possible any contaminated areas.

Should I clean the Germbot™ UV light bulb after use?

Like any light bulb, the Germbot™ light bulb can be very fragile. Cleaning should only rarely be necessary under normal use.

What is the target market for the Germbot™?

Because of the developers’ coaching background, initial units are targeted for use with school facilities - especially High Schools and Colleges. Other natural markets include children’s day care centers, elder care facilities, residential homes where “at risk” infants require a cleaner floor environment, and any facility that requires cleaner more bacteria free floors.

What kind of customer are we looking for?

We are currently doing a limited prototype build and we are seeking customers who want to be on the leading edge of providing safe environments for their facilities and are willing to work with us to test and evaluate the effectiveness of our Germbot™ units (we are open to suggestions for changes if needed). The ideal customer for us is one who will use our unit consistently and provide feedback to help us improve our product. Science, common sense and our database of pathogens tell us mathematically that the Germbot™ will have a significant impact on cleaning surfaces but we need customer partners to help provide us with actual use results to create the best version of a Germbot™.

How can I justify the cost of a Germbot™?

Our cost structure is designed to be affordable by offering Germbot™ units at a monthly rental rate of only $99 per month. Organizations using a Germbot™ can save money (and have floor surfaces be healthier for human contact) by using fewer chemicals on your floor surfaces. In addition – the value of keeping your children, students, and athletes safer and healthier can easily justify the costs involved.

How long will the battery last on the Germbot™?

Battery life depends on the surface being cleaned, the number of times the Germbot™ hits a wall and needs to backup, how open the floor plan is (an area with many chairs takes longer to clean than an open area since the Germbot™ needs to go around each leg), and how often you repeatedly clean the same area . Some customers have said that they use the Germbot™ for about an hour before it needs to be recharged. You should quickly learn how long the battery lasts in your environment. Please make sure the battery is fully charged after use.

How big of an area can I use the Germbot™ on?

You will need to experiment with this as a lot depends on your room setup and drop-offs (the Germbot™ should stop at the edge of a drop off) that are part of the area. A good way to do this is to section off a part of a room using the virtual wall that comes with the Germbot™ and test the area coverage making sure that the Germbot™ has a full battery charge. (Additional infrared “walls” can be purchased if needed).

What should I do if the Germbot™ is not working correctly?

There is a troubleshooting section of the IRobot Roomba manual included with this unit that might answer any questions. This is especially helpful with initial setup.

Like all electronic devices – you can sometimes solve a problem by turning the Germbot™ completely off, unplug the power cord, and then “reboot” it by going through your original setup.

Please contact our tech support if your unit fails to work or charge after it has been working or if the unit has been damaged or dropped, we will provide a repair or replacement for any rental unit.

Cleaning Up a Broken CFL

Follow the instructions at the EPA website at:http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl