An affordable ultraviolet-C (UVC) shoe sole sanitiser, developed by the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Odisha’s Berhampur was formally launched via video conference on Monday, and its first unit was handed over to a COVID-19 hospital at Sitalapalli on the outskirts of the city.
Threat of transmission of pathogenic viruses and microbes through the soles of footwear is extremely high at hospitals and public places like schools, offices, airports, railway stations, shopping malls and hotels. “As fear of COVID-19 is going to be a part of our life in the coming months, we decided to innovate existing technology to develop this affordable UVC sole sanitiser,” said Rajat Kumar Panigrahy, Principal, ITI-Berhampur.
The innovation costs ₹6,000-₹7,000. Similar sole sanitisers are marketed at a price of USD 5,000 in America, and some private companies in India are selling such devices at ₹50,000, Mr. Panigrahy said.
The device includes a covered portable platform with a shoe sole receiving surface. When a person stands on it and places his or her shoe soles on the surface, a timer unit lights up the UVC lamps underneath, which direct UVC rays for eight seconds to eradicate micro-organisms on the soles.
Out of three types of UV radiations named UVA, UVB and UVC, short wavelength UVC damages and alters DNA of all potentially harmful microbes, including viruses, making them incapable of replication. To avoid leakage of UVC harmful to human eyes, the device has a leak-proof cover over the chamber where the footwear is placed.
Prototypes of this sole sanitiser were virtually inaugurated by the chairman of the Odisha Skill Development Authority (OSDA), Subroto Bagchi. The standard device can disinfect the soles of both shoes at a go. A cheaper, single chamber unit has also been developed, in which soles can be disinfected one after the other. Its affordability ensures the device can be used in shops and homes as well.
Director of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Berhampur, Professor K.V.R. Chary handed over the first device to Dr. Umashankar Mishra, head of the COVID-19 hospital in Sitalapalli. Several technocrats and medical experts from different parts of the country and abroad took part in the virtually-enabled launching ceremony.
Dr. Mishra said the shoe sole sanitiser would be of great help as it would eradicate the need for disinfection of shoes worn by medical personnel with soap or chemicals. Dr. Chary said the device was a game changer that he hoped would be universally utilised in the near future. Mr. Bagchi praised ITI Berhampur for collaborating with IISER, Berhampur and the MKCG Medical College in the city to come up with such innovation at the time of need.
ITI Berhampur continues to assist in the fight against COVID-19 with simple innovations. The Union Ministry for Skill Development directed all the ITIs in the country to replicate another device developed by ITI Berhampur — by converting discarded microwave ovens into UV sanitiser chambers for the disinfection of mobile phones, pens and other small items carried by medical staff at COVID-19 hospitals. Earlier, staff of ITI Berhampur also designed and manufactured nominally priced “face shields” and “aerosol boxes” to save frontline personnel from infections, which has been replicated in other parts of Odisha and outside the State.