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Method and Apparatus to Assure the Washing of Hands Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004761D
Publication Date: 2001-May-02
Document File: 1 page(s) / 22K

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The Prior Art Database

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6,031,461: PATENT [+2]


Disclosed is a method and apparatus to assure that persons wash their hands. The novel method involves marking the person's hand with an easily identifiable substance that is removable by washing with a sanitizing medium. The marking would occur when the person has done something in which it is desirable to wash one's hands after such event (eg entering a rest room, flushing a toilet, entering a hospital room or restaurant food preparation area and so forth). Person's who have been marked with the easily identifiable substance must either wash off the substance (i.e. sanitizing their hands) or be "marked" as having done something that requires hand washing without actually washing their hands.

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US Patent Numbers: 6,031,461; 6,147,607 and 6,211,788 all entitled "Method and Apparatus for Helping to Assure the Washing of Hands" set forth a novel method of assuring that people wash their hands (hereinafter the '461; '607 and '788 patents respectively). This method utilizes an easily identifiable substance which can be removed by washing and a marking mechanism coupled to the easily identifiable substance. A hand of a person is marked with the easily identifiable substance when the marking mechanism is triggered by the hand operating an actuating member associated with an event where washing of a person's hands is desirable. Examples of actuating members include door opening mechanisms to sanitary areas (eg a door exiting a restroom) or flushing mechanisms for toilets. In short, a person is forced to wash their hands because they have become so obviously marked (i.e. figuratively but not literally "dirty") when they did something in which hand washing is desirable.

The '461, '607 and '788 patents are incorporated into this document by reference and should be reviewed for a fuller understanding of the additional information disclosed herein.

These patents disclose various types of easily identifiable substances such as paints, dyes, pigments, chalks, stains. They also disclose even phosphor substances which are not visible to the naked eye but which are visible under ultraviolet light or other mediums. Most of the means of identifying the easily identifiable substance in these patents are by use of sight (although the disclosure or claims of these patents are not limited to identification by sight solely). However, in addition to sight there are other means of identifying the easily identifiable discussed in more detail below.

For example, the easily identifiable substance could be designed such that it sets off an alarm or some sort of device which alerts the person or a superior to the failure to wash off the easily identifiable substance. As an example, the easily identifiable substance could contain some sort of ferromagnetic material which will set off an alarm if it is in the proximity of a sensor for such materials. The ferromagnetic or metallic sensor could be placed in the entrance to a sanitary area (perhaps embedded in the door opening mechanism) such that anyone entering the area with the ferromagnetic material still on his or her hands will set off an alarm or even prevent entry into the area (i.e. the door will not open is the alarm has been triggered). This type of non-visual identification prevents a person from hiding the easily identifiable substance by covering his hands with gloves (or another covering) or by positioning his hands in such a way that makes it difficult for someone to see the mark. The concept is similar to (and could be identical to) the method used in airports to check persons for weapons by ...