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Florida middle school student invents bracelet to track hand washing

Winning idea at science fair pays off during coronavirus pandemic
Posted at 3:04 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 15:04:03-04

A Florida sixth-grade student has come up with an invention that tracks whether or not you wash your hands, especially after using the bathroom.

And it could let your boss know.
It may have taken the coronavirus for many people to take hand washing seriously.

Still, a student at Anderson Middle School in Martin County, Florida, was looking for ways to make people wash their hands even before the pandemic.

"It was by chance COVID-19 came up, and that made this project super important," Varun Singh said.

He entered into the Martin County School District's science fair with a winning idea. He designed a bracelet that tracks handwashing habits.

"My mom was very helpful in helping me come up with that," Singh said.

Singh's mother works in the medical field, where handwashing is critical. He learned from her that not washing your hands can pose serious risks.

"It struck an idea in my head that if we somehow came up with a way to track our handwashing, then maybe this would fix the problem," Singh said.

The bracelet he designed uses RFID technology or Radio Frequency Identification. "It's often used in credit cards when you use an ATM, or maybe a pass when you scan it on the bus," Singh explained.

He puts a scanner near a toilet's flush handle and another scanner near a bathroom's soap dispenser.

The bracelet automatically scans when someone flushes, and then it scans again when someone washes their hands and records the information into a database.

If they do not wash their hands after flushing, that will also be documented in a database.

Singh says the concept could be helpful for businesses, such as restaurants and medical facilities.

"With COVID-19 being the biggest pandemic the world has seen in decades, it was essential that we had to design a way for us to track our hand washing because that's one of the main reasons that this pandemic is spreading across the world," Singh said.

Singh won the science fair and the Lemelson Early Inventor Prize.

"I felt pleased when I got it because it made my project feel special," Singh said.

He hopes his invention might be able to make a big difference in public health.

"I like designing projects that can hopefully change the world someday," Singh said.

He was supposed to head to the state fair with his idea, but that was canceled because of COVID-19. He still hopes to keep promoting it and even get a patent.

WPTV's Meghan McRoberts first reported this story.