MAASTRICHT. “Smartphone transmits disease,” was the heading in Medisch Contact, a weekly magazine for physicians, at the end of last year. Mobile phones appear to be a major source of hospital infections. The solution? Wash your hands. But what may be even better: disinfect your mobile phone. As part of their International Business master’s of Entrepreneurship, four Maastricht students recently launched a product called CellMates: wet antibacterial wipes for mobile telephones.
In Medisch Contact, researchers from the VU Medical Centre pleaded for hospital guidelines. Doctors carry their mobile phones everywhere – for example to browse through literature during a consultation – while they shake one patient’s hand after the other and carry out examinations.
Four master’s students heard the story and concluded that doctors’ mobile phones could do with a regular clean-up. They came up with CellMates, individually wrapped wet wipes that attack the bacteria on smartphones. “There is no such thing on the German or Dutch market yet. Of course there are cleaning products, but most of these - such as spectacle wipes - damage the mobile phone’s screen in the long run. CellMates don’t do that,” say the Dutch students Janneke Ruhaak and Harm-Jan Meeuwsen. Britta Schwartz and Laura Gasseling are their German ‘associates’. CellMates – a combination of cell phone and (room) mate – was given a logo and an appropriate subtitle ‘Stay healthy, clean your phone’.
The boxes, which contain 15 wipes each, are manufactured in Sweden. The first 1,500 boxes are in Meeuwsen’s room. Whether the wipes - which can also be used for tablets, laptops, sunglasses and cameras - will be swiped up like hot cross buns, is the question. “It has to become a routine,” they say. “We know that we have to keep our toilets and door handles clean; the same applies to smartphones.”
Some time ago, The Wall Street Journal reported about a test with eight randomly selected mobile phones from an office in Chicago. Large deposits of coliform bacteria, which is present in human faeces, was found on all appliances. The President of the American Academy of Family Physicians in The Wall Street Journal: “Some things we think are personal are actually more public than we imagine.”
CellMates are on sale (15 wipes for €5.99) in the web shop http://cellmates.de as well as in the Maastricht sandwich shop Something Good