A corona hygiene bucket

A corona hygiene bucket

ROMA-THIS brilliant Corona Hygiene Bucket uses technology to ensure you don’t touch anything — while washing your hands — to reduce chances of catching coronavirus.

The bucket has no tap — a potential virus surface.
It automatically senses your hands and showers them with water.
Its development has just been completed by Seforo Mohlalisi and Thabo Koetje, two National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub electronic engineers, together with their students, Stephen Monyamane and Zandile Mkuzo.

As a bonus, “the bucket comes with a means to control temperature such that it remains warm but not hot,” Mohlalisi says.
Washing with warm, soapy water is very effective against the virus.
Lesotho’s winter is fast approaching and keeping water warm will be a bit of a struggle.

Experts have told us that washing our hands again and again and again is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
However, think about the following scenario.
Imagine a group of people lining up to wash their hands with soap and water at a water tap.

The first person has a virus already on his hands.
He touches the tap to switch on the water and leaves the virus on the tap.
He then washes hands and clears the virus.
He then touches the tap to close it, probably picking some of the virus he left on the tap.

The next person comes and touches the tap and the rest is history.
Imagining this scenario is not meant to scare people away from washing their hands —quite the opposite.
It is meant to reinforce the hand-washing habit, but in a more hygienic way when possible.

For instance, regularly disinfecting the water taps could be very important.
However, since such disinfecting is not always possible, how about the Corona Hygiene Bucket developed at the NUL Innovation Hub?
With it, you don’t worry about touching anything.

Rather, you just place your hands below a water pipe and, volla! Water suddenly comes rushing to your hands for as long as the hands are near the pipe mouth.

When you remove your hands, the water stops flowing, so it is saved for the next washing episode.
How does it work?

First we have a sensor that is continually beaming signals,” Koetje says.
When the signals hit anything, they come back to the sensor which we have programmed to figure out how far the signals went from the sensors before they bounced back.

If the signals hit a surface that is beyond 15 cm from the sensors, and return, the bucket takes no action.
However, if the signals hit a surface that is at 15cm or below, they assume they have hit your hands.

At that moment, the sensors communicate with an electronic pump inside the bucket which immediately pumps water.
The sensors keep sending the signals to your hands to ensure that your hands are still there.

If the hands go away, then they tell the pump to stop working.
In the whole process, your hands didn’t touch anything.
The bucket also has temperature control for two reasons.
First, they ensure that the water remains warm.
Second, they ensure that the water doesn’t get hot which would waste electricity.

Now, this bucket is brilliant in many levels.
“It doesn’t only help with the problem of taps,” the creators say. “In Lesotho, very few people have access to water coming through taps.”
Rather, don’t most of us use basins when we wash our hands?
Think about this.

My friend has hands with virus.
I ask my friend to hold a basin full of water. 
I place my hands below that basin and she lets the water drop on my hands.

She has probably left some virus on that basin.
Then, after washing my hands, it is my turn (rea hlatsoana).
I hold the basin, probably picking the virus from the basin (after washing my hands).

And she is the one washing her hands now.
After that she picks the basin to take it back to where it came from, probably re-picking the virus.

Could it be that we didn’t achieve much — despite our best efforts?
Not necessarily. Washing our hands is better than doing nothing since we reduce chances of infection no matter how imperfect the process is.
However, with this bucket, we can reduce the chances even further.
Most places in Lesotho may not have access to running water.

However, quite a number, even in rural areas, are beginning to have electricity.
And electricity is all you need to get this bucket in motion.
In fact the bucket also uses batteries, so you don’t need electricity if you can charge batteries periodically.

The bucket can be used in homes, businesses, at funerals, in hospitals, clinics, churches, weddings, almost anywhere, where people need to improve their hygiene.

Can you find the bucket now?
Unfortunately, with the remaining supplies, the engineers can produce only three buckets for mass use — e.g. a 200-litre bucket.
That is because, like in the case of the Innovation Hub hand sanitizer, the lockdown has ensured that the parts imported from South Africa to make the bucket are not available.

If the government assists with this essential service, and supplies become available, the buckets will be made.

Own Correspondent

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