Switch Sanitizing Device


Reference #: 01009

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for devices that automatically sanitize switch surfaces using UV germicidal radiation to prevent transfer of communicable diseases from contaminated switch surfaces.

Invention Description:

The present invention addresses the need for sanitization or decontamination of the contact areas of manual switches by providing a localized source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation that is directed toward said contact surfaces via novel routing and shielding of said radiation. The device is designed in such a way that exposes potentially contaminated surfaces to the sanitizing UV radiation without harmful exposure to humans or animals.

Potential Applications:

Light switches, elevator call buttons, touch video displays, security keypads, control keypads, panel buttons and other switches/handles.

Advantages and Benefits:

  1. Effective, automatic sanitization of switch surfaces in the presence of humans or animals without detrimental exposure to UV light

  2. Germicidal light sources are local to the surface requiring minimal energy while being highly effective, and may be designed to stop functioning when a human or animal presence is noted, or when movement is detected, or the like, in order to prevent harmful exposure of humans or animals to the germicidal light.


Light switches, elevator call buttons, elevator panel buttons, security key pads, and toilet flush switch buttons are a few examples of contact surfaces that are typical vectors for indirect contact transmission of infectious disease. For example, influenza viruses, which the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates affect 5% to 20% of the U.S population each year, may be transferred via indirect contact transmission. Other contaminants, that are easily transferred via indirect contact transference include, but are not limited to bacteria such as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium Difficile (C. dif. or CDF).

Contact transference of contamination can be especially problematic in hospitals and other care facilities as well as in heavily trafficked public areas such as subway stations, airports, and schools, as well as in residential common areas such as bathroom light switches, kitchen light switches or the like. These communal facilities are characterized by contamination vectors with relatively high frequency of human contact, which enables indirect contamination transference from one person to another via touch surfaces.

The Problem:

The contact surfaces of light switches, and other switches and buttons have been identified as major sources of contamination. These frequently contacted and frequently contaminated items need to be sanitized frequently in order to prevent indirect contact transference of infectious disease from one person to another.

Manual cleaning of switches is the current state of the art for disinfecting switch contact surfaces. This method requires diligence in order to insure that the entire contact surface of each switch is disinfected, and is labor intensive and costly. It also is typically not performed consistently and validation tools, such as testing the contact surface after cleaning for microbial substances, are not typically used to verify that cleaning was effective. Additionally, since this method of cleaning is usually not typically performed after each contact, there is no way to ensure that the surface is disinfected at each human contact.

Other methods of cleaning switch contact surfaces include use of antiseptic sprays or chemical foggers (e.g., peroxide "bombs" and the like). These methods typically are used to disinfect an entire enclosure and thus, are expensive and must be applied frequently, making the entire enclosure unusable and inaccessible during the cleaning process. Additionally, these disinfection methods are also not typically performed after each human contact, so there is no way to ensure that the surface is disinfected prior to each human contact.



Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
Switch Sanitizing Device Utility United States 14/195,357 8,895,940 3/3/2014 11/25/2014 3/3/2034 Abandoned
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Jay Moskowitz
Michael Randall
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