Samsung's free handwashing app brings rinsing reminders to smartwatches

Seeking to cut down an individual's risk of infection, the app encourages frequent washing with appropriate technique.
By Dave Muoio
01:31 pm
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Handwashing may be a routine habit for some, but for everyone else who struggles to sanitize there's now a smartwatch app from Samsung that encourages regular, thorough handwashing.

Available for a free download on a range Samsung smartwatches (all of them waterproof), the app's alarm reminds users to wash their hands at pre-scheduled intervals throughout the course of a day. A dashboard screen keeps track of how long it's been since the last wash, and how many more washes are needed to hit the user's daily goal.

The app also aims to keep users honest about their time at the faucet. Either manually or in response to the alarm, a tap and swipe will start a 25-second timer (five seconds for applying soap, 20 for rinsing). The countdown is displayed on the watch screen, and reinforced by feel with haptic feedback.

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WHAT'S THE IMPACT?

Regular handwashing is always a strong deterrent of communicable diseases, but the past few months' pandemic and resulting quarantine have placed an even greater focus on appropriate hand hygiene. Hand-washing is among the CDC's primary recommendations for avoiding coronavirus transmission, and in the app's announcement Samsung itself highlighted a recent University of College London study that tied six to 10 washes per day to lower infection risk.

However, it's hard to imagine that smartwatch owners with especially poor hand-hygiene would seek out and download the app in the first place. Samsung's tool is only likely to reach those who are already conscious of handwashing's benefits and want to improve their habits.

THE LARGER TREND

Samsung's app relies on regular reminders to drive long-term change. Other wearable-makers often employ similar approaches when targeting healthy behaviors. Take for instance the Apple Watch's fitness ring goals and how the companion app encourages wearers to walk or stand a certain amount of time each day.

Digital health companies have also dabbled in hand hygiene, although primarily with systems designed for healthcare settings. Examples of these kinds of monitoring approaches have improved hand hygiene adherence in the past, and from come vendors such as SwipeSense, AiRISTA Flow, BioVigil, EcoLab, Stanley Healthcare and Vitalacy.

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