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UVC technology takes off as the new way to disinfect

CNET's Now What finds a tech once limited to hospitals and institutions is coming home.

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Vioguard Cubby+
Vioguard
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For the foreseeable future we'll be disinfecting with a vengeance. But the amount of time and materials it takes to do that are tedious and coerce us to take shortcuts. Now what?

Ultraviolet light is effective against many microbes and requires no cleaning liquid, wipes, towels or even much technique on the part of the user. You just turn it on and come back later. But it can be harmful to eyes and skin if it's potent enough to work, and also lacks strong safeguards, which is part of the reason UVC sterilization is mostly found in institutional settings. 

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Vioguard is trying to bend that curve toward home use. Its Cubby Plus is a home version of what started as a self-sterilizing keyboard for medical settings. It's essentially an electronic device drawer that closes for 60 seconds, bathing whatever's inside it in UVC light. When it reopens, every microbe on your devices should be inactivated, though there is a slight asterisk around SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Vioguard Cubby+

The Vioguard Cubby Plus is a tray-style cabinet that bathes devices in UV light for a prescribed amount of time to kill bacteria and viruses.

Vioguard

"Right now all of the testing we're doing is done on surrogates that respond and react similarly to COVID-19," says Mark Beeston, VP of sales and marketing for Vioguard, saying that actual lab-grade test samples of the virus are hard to come by. "According to a study done by Emory [University], we know that those viruses are pretty weak." Beeston says the 60-second cycle in its product is up to four times times longer than the exposure needed to kill many viruses and is up to the task of killing the hard-to-tackle Clostridioides difficile bacteria.

Vioguard Cubby+ interior

UVC light inactivates virtually all viruses on surfaces it can illuminate, though the amount of time needed to do so with vary by the UVC emitting device.

Vioguard

The prevention-minded household might be intrigued by such a powerful disinfecting drawer, but put off by the Cubby Plus's $899 price, especially when the similar Phonesoap HomeSoap ultraviolet device can be had for under $200. Beeston says the difference is speed of operation and functional assurance: The Cubby Plus uses the same technology that earned the company's Defender self-sanitizing keyboard an FDA de novo clearance. The Cubby Plus 60-second cycle time is also much faster than the 10 minutes required by the HomeSoap sterilizer. Still, $899 may be more than most people paid for any device they might want to disinfect in a Cubby Plus.

Hear more about Vioguard's pricey but impressive technology in the video interview above with CNET's Brian Cooley.

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<em>Now What</em> is a video interview series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers that covers trends impacting businesses and consumers amid the "new normal." There will always be change in our world, and we'll be here to discuss how to navigate it all.   

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.