Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Machine vision doing good

As a counter to my occasional handwringing on the perils of machine vision-based surveillance technology, here’s a story about handwashing.

A group of clever Hungarians have come up with a system that shows how well hands have been scrubbed clean. Given that it seems some people come out of hospital sicker than when they went in, this may be a Very Good Thing.

Their company is called Clariton, although the website is If you take a look you’ll find an imaging system that uses UV light to illuminate hands washed in a fluorescent soap.

I view this as more of a personal hygiene training aid than something to be relied upon for medical cleanliness. I can imagine food preparation facilities using it to educate employees about how to better scrub up but I’m not sure about it being integrated into an Operating Room. All the same, it’s a very neat idea.

One point I would make is that the website is somewhat misleading about UV health. The site says “Fluorescent lights without a phosphorescent coating emit ultraviolet radiation at 254 nm due to the peak emission of the mercury within the tube. These are CE marked regular compact UV tubes that pose no health risk.” Unfortunately, light at 254nm is in the UV-C band, which can be hazardous, depending on the duration and intensity of exposure. It would be better if the good people of Clariton could move up to the 315 – 400nm band.

Lastly, I should credit Andy Wilson and his colleagues at Vision Systems Design for altering me to this innovative product. If you’re not reading their publication, shame on you!

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