Graduate builds automated device for hand-washing

Monday, April 20th, 2020 00:00 |
James Nyakera demonstrates how to use the machine at Kairo market, Murang’a. Photo/PD/Wangari Njuguna

As Kenya continues to record more cases of coronavirus infections, a former Thika Technical Training Institute student in Kiambu County has created an automated hand-cleaning device aimed at helping slow down the transmission of the virus.

Martin Kamau, 27, who took an electrical and electronics course, came up with the unit that does not require users to turn the tap on and off as they wash their hands.

His prototype encompasses a sensor that identifies hands from a range of 1-10 centimetres away to trigger a solenoid valve to open the tap for 10 seconds, a period which a user washes hands without having to come into contact with the tap.

The gadget is designed to reduce the touching of the hand-washing dispensers mounted in public places.

The gadget allows for zero-human contact, which can significantly reduce the spread of the disease.

“While using the taps that have been mounted in public places, any infected person may leave the virus at the tap thereby making the disease spread even more. To counter contamination of taps, I came up with an automatic system that reduces the chances of infection,” he said.

In the new system, Kamau has incorporated an artificial intelligence temperature sensor that allows people washing their hands to also read their body temperature.

“While washing your hands, the artificial intelligence sensor that is placed in front of the hand washing system will be recording your temperature so that by the time you are done with hand washing, the temperature sensor will have recorded your temperature details at the LCD attached to the system,” he added.

The new innovation, he says is applicable to high-traffic public areas such as markets, bus parks, hospitals, police stations and for indoor use.

Kamau, who graduated last year, said the innovation started as a rudimentary idea which he modified and developed in a few days.

He spent Sh5,000 to buy the requisite accessories, some of which he designed and developed from scratch.

The graduate pointed out that with sufficient support, he can develop 20 such units a day, which, he said, would go a long way in helping minimise human contact and spread of germs while washing hands in public places.

Since he enrolled for an engineering course at the Thika-based institution, Kamau has also invented an automatic voice control system.

He has also designed and develop an agricultural system that helps farmers to use their phones to monitor their farm temperature, humidity and moisture content.

Impact society

The innovator also takes pride in having come up with a fire fighting robot that helps fire response team to, with commands extinguish fire outbreaks faster.

The technical school Principal Sammy Cheruiyot acclaimed Kamau’s brilliance as one that will help solve problems in society.

He said that the institution that offers automotive engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, civil and building among others was working hard to produce graduates who are responsive to societal problems.

“Kamau is one among hundreds of graduands we release to the market yearly and who, using technology, impact society by offering solutions to challenges encountered daily. We ask our former students to emulate his example and work had to change the world,” he said.

Kamau’s innovation came to the limelight a few days after President Uhuru Kenyatta lauded Kenyans coming up with innovations to combat Covid-19 such as the recent ventilator innovation by Kenyatta University students.

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