Concept: American startup PathSpot has developed a hand scanner device that detects contaminants and provides real-time feedback on the quality of handwash. It is a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified solution that enables the restaurants to set and track handwashing goals as per CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and FDA guidelines.

Nature of Disruption: PathSpot leverages light fluorescence spectroscopy, an imaging technology used in the healthcare industry to scan the employees’ hands and detect contaminants in real-time. The technology uses non-UV or non-UV-C LED light, which is safe to use on the skin daily. The device identifies common illness carriers by detecting their host-vector material. For instance, it protects against Norovirus, E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, and Listeria by recognizing gut biome molecules that transmit such pathogens. Employees complete a two-second scan of their hands under the device after washing them to ensure they are safe to handle food. When contaminants remain after a handwash, the device uses sensors along with audible, visual, and electronic cues to instruct the employees to rewash and rescan their hands. If employees fail to address the handwash frequency requirements and notifications, it escalates notices to their management. The device can detect employees based on their ID tags, providing managers with information about their handwashing schedule. PathSpot’s tool for handwashing goals allows restaurants to set up standards for their employees and assess whether they are matching the desired metrics. Goal tracking and handwashing data are displayed on the dashboard and the hand scanner screen, enabling employees to know if they are fulfilling the hygiene requirements. Moreover, managers can monitor the frequency and effectiveness of handwashing by analyzing data that is segmented according to location, date, time, handwashing station, and brand.

Outlook: Before the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, less than 25% of US restaurants’ handwashing practices followed FDA food code handwashing frequency regulations. However, current situation demands increasing focus on employee and customer hygiene. Pathshot claims that its hand scanning device can enable restaurants to train their employees and ensure proper handwashing that complies with the FDA guidelines, thereby reducing the chances of encountering COVID-19. It has raised $6.5M in a Series A funding round led by Valor Siren Ventures (VSV), along with existing investors Walden Venture Capital and FIKA Ventures. The startup has plans to expand its services to include the detection of contaminants on food, surfaces, and equipment.

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