Online Exclusives

Clean that Screen

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | January 3, 2011

More touchscreen devices are making their way into consumers' (dirty and germy) hands. From big names like Bausch & Lomb to smaller companies with green formulations, there are several gadget-friendly products that promise to clean smudges and kill bacteria that lurk on consumer electronics.

The worldwide market for touchscreen mobile devices was expected to rise more than 96% last year to exceed 362 million units, according to Gartner, Inc. As one of the biggest players in the touchscreen market, Apple sold 8.4 million iPhones, 9.41 million iPods and 3.27 iPads—in just the third quarter of 2010 alone.

 
No longer the property of gadget geeks or A-list celebrities, touchscreen gadgets are attainable—and coveted—by all.
 
Users will tell you their slick looking screens can get pretty nasty, thanks to fingers harboring sweat, french fry grease, hair gel…or worse.
 
Imagine during lunch at the local taco joint, your friend puts down his loaded burrito, coughs, and then hands you his iPhone. He’s going to share more than pictures of his kids or his favorite new app; he’s likely sharing his cold too, say some experts.

 
 
In fact, a study published in the July issue of the *Journal of Applied Microbiology found the average cell phone can harbor 18 times more germs than a toilet handle in a public bathroom.
 
Cleaning Up
 
Bausch & Lomb came across dirt issues first-hand, as it developed its own educational apps for the iPad—and set out to solve them.
 
“We found that while theiPad is a great tool to educate optometrists and their staff, it did have a tendency to smudge after use due to the coatings on the screen,” said John Stewart, regional business director vision accessories, Bausch + Lomb. “Because we had expertise in the area of cleaning glass surfaces, we involved our R&D organization in coming up with a solutionwhich we launched as Clens.”

 
The Clens system, which can be used to clean the screens of iPads and iPods, comes with pre-moistened wipes, spray and a microfiber cloth to gently buff and shine surfaces.
 
Clens, a new iPad/iPhone cleaner from Bausch & Lomb, is sold at Apple stores across the U.S.
But Clens does more the shine; it offers antibacterial protection too.Bausch + Lomb tested the system by simulating everyday use. Researchers handled mobile devices a minimum of 10 times in typical situations, such as during lunch and after using a computer. The devices were also deliberately exposed to 13 varieties of bacteria, yeast and mold. The surfaces treated with the Clens cleaning system reduced surface germs by at least 90%, according to the company.

 
Clens, which is sold for less than $20, is currently available in the accessories section at all Apple stores in the U.S., and B&L has “plans tolaunch similar technology at other national retailers in 2011,” Stewart told Happi.

 
Another company offering gadget-friendly cleaning products is Origin Laboratories, LLC. The Pasadena, CA-based firm touts Purosol Plasma — billed as a green cleaner for electronics such as LCD and plasma televisions, laptops and PDAs.


Originally developed for NASA and the U.S. military, Purosol does not contain alcohol, ammonia, detergent, or any other traditional solvent, according to the company. It is non-toxic, hypoallergenic, nonflammable, sterile and completely biodegradable as well as being CFC-free and VOC-free.

 
Origin Laboratories’ Purosol is another line of cleaning spray for high-tech devices.
Company executives won’t reveal the actual formulation, other than stating that it relies on organic plant extracts and state-of-the-art green chemistry to work its magic.

 
Steven D'Antoni, vice president ofOrigin Laboratories, is a self-described “obsessive iPad owner.” He uses Purosol hourly on his iPad “just to tackle fingerprints. It does an amazing job,” he said.

 
According to D'Antoni, maintaining a clean screen will help keep germs at bay.

 
“Coated glass is pretty resistant to germs hanging on, especially when properly cleaned, because the germs can only hold on to the oil, grease and grime on top of the glass,” he said. “If that is removed, you maintain a relatively clean surface, compared to say a keyboard, which is probably more disgusting than you want to know.”

 
Currently, Purosol’s largest retail space is online, but D‘Antoni says the line has “a lot of converts.” Photographers, for example, are likely to recognize the Purosol name as its optical lens cleaner can be found at well-known camera retailers like B&H Photo/Video, Adorama and Samy's Camera as well as online at Amazon.com.

 
Purosol and Bausch & Lomb aren’t alone in the market. There’s competition from tech-focused firms and more traditional household cleaning companies alike.

 
Zagg, best known for special skins that protect electronic devices, offers ZAGGfoam antibacterial cleaner and Weiman Products touts E-tronic Wipes, which are said to repel dust and eliminate static from electronic equipment including plasma TVs, laptop screens and cell phones. Also, Violight, a maker of toothbrush cleaners that use UV light to eradicate germs, is offering a new device that sanitizes cell phones. It is said to eliminate 99% of germs and bacteria in less than five minutes.
 

Related End-User Markets:

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