It was probably about time we became aware of the unseen dangers lurking in corners and surfaces, especially the viruses and microorganisms that spend days lurking on tables, doorknobs and handles. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to break old habits of touching things without much thought, especially when it comes to something as trivial as wiping down handles and surfaces before use. Those trying to develop good habits, on the other hand, will find that there isn’t as much support for making it convenient to keep surfaces clean without doing too much work. This is especially a problem in very public spaces like supermarkets, where everything is exposed to dozens of people touching almost everything. That’s why this odd round device exists to make cleaning such surfaces, especially shopping cart handles, as easy as inserting a coin.
Designer: Xinyu Ye
It doesn’t take much effort to wipe something down before using it, especially if it’s something shared by multiple people. The problem and inconvenience comes from not having the right tools to do the job, which is often a pack of wet wipes in your pocket or bag. Alternatively, you could just spray it with alcohol, assuming you carry a bottle the whole time, but the end result could be a sticky, wet, and almost gross handle that still leaves you feeling dirty by the end.
To be honest, customers shouldn’t be alone in a store on a crusade against germs. While it has become common for many businesses to provide hand sanitizer dispensers at key points in an area, for high-traffic, high-contact areas such as supermarkets, these simply aren’t enough. It’s about time companies and businesses stepped up their hygiene measures too, and this partially fungus-inspired device is one device that could help them improve the safety and satisfaction of their customers.
At first glance, SLIBALL almost looks like a futuristic sci-fi device, especially thanks to its sleek shape and glossy white or black finish. It has a hole going through its roughly cuboid body where the handle of a shopping cart would go through. The core idea is that the device uses UV-C light to disinfect the handle of the shopping cart to which it is attached. And instead of forcing a shopper to take an extra step, SLIBALL can be integrated into the process of ordering a shopping cart right from the start.
Some malls and supermarkets require you to insert a coin to unlock a shopping cart, and the same coin can be used to activate SLIBALL. The device will automatically begin sterilizing the handle and can even be slid down the length of the handle to cover all areas. Once done, the device’s “head” pops out of the ground like a mushroom after the rain, returning the coin to the owner. It’s actually a simple concept that few have likely considered, but given our current circumstances, it’s an avenue worth exploring. It could even become a lucrative business for manufacturers of sanitary ware, especially as more and more people return to shopping in person.