Coronavirus has only emphasized the importance of proper hand-washing. Now, restaurants across the country are using a high tech hand scanner called PathSpot that detects just how well employees are washing their hands in seconds.
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Recently, I visited the newest location of Dave’s Hot Chicken in San Diego to see the scanner in action. Dave’s serves up Nashville-inspired chicken tenders and sliders.
Employees must scan their freshly washed hands under the device, which is mounted near a hand washing station. It uses light and an algorithm to detect dirty hands in seconds.
“It gives you the green light if it’s good to go or the red X if it’s not,” explains Deryl Pangelinan, director of operations at Dave’s Hot Chicken San Diego.
“We chose to go with PathSpot to give us an extra step, an extra step that’s going to ensure us that clean hands are what’s working in our kitchen,” said Pangelinan.
While the scanner doesn’t check for COVID-19, it does identify the nasty stuff that causes food-borne illnesses.
“I know everyone has thought a lot about hand washing in the last 3 months, but I’ve been obsessed with hand washing the last 3 years,” quipped Christine Schindler, co-founder and CEO of PathSpot.
The scanner is looking for the real yucky stuff.
“We’re looking for things like gut biomatter, fecal contamination, vomitus, these are the things, as gross as it is, that actually carry most of these harmful illnesses – especially in restaurant and food production areas,” explained Schindler.
Of course, I had to give it a try. The process is pretty easy. First, you wash your hands for the recommended amount of time, usually around 20 to 40 seconds.
Next, you dry your hands, then tap in an employee ID number on the PathSpot screen.
Finally, you hold your hands under the device and it emits a blue light. It prompts you to flip them over to scan the other side.
After a few moments, the machine gave my hands a clean bill of health. It did not detect any food-borne illness contamination!
“Just because you can’t see them, you can’t smell them, [that] doesn’t mean they’re not there,” said Schindler.
“Everyone wants to be sure that they’re safe and that’s a priority of ours,” concluded Pangelinan.
Restaurants pay a subscription fee of about $175 a month for PathSpot technology, which is being used at restaurants in various states. Additionally, Starbucks, through investment company Valor Equity Partners, is a notable investor in the technology.
As for the chicken? Absolutely delicious. It’s the first time I ever had Nashville style hot fried chicken, and it was so good. My only regret is not getting a hotter level of spice. I went medium, and I could have stepped it up one more notch.
There’s always next time.
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