As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, people are asked to practise several drills by the health experts that include social distancing, washing hands frequently, and mainly avoid touching the faces. From the public health point of view, these are pieces of good advice.
Ignoring an itchy nose is easier said than done. Forget about the coronavirus, we as humans have this unusual habit of touching our faces often, which makes us susceptible during disease outbreaks. And we usually do it without even noticing.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control back in 2015, researchers found that 26 people under observation touched their faces 23 times per hour on average. They touched either their mouth, nose, eyes, or combination of the three around 44% of the time.
Australian comedian Martin Ingle in a video puts the message from health officials to music:
“Whatever you do, don’t touch your face,” he sings. “Keep your hands in your personal space.”
To break the habit, start by being more aware of when you touch your face. If you have difficulty in doing this, worry not. Several companies, startups and research committees have found numerous tech solutions for you to follow. Take a look!
AI wearable to avoid touching your face: Immutouch
Seattle-based company, Immutouch has developed a wristband that vibrates whenever you touch your face, making you aware of the unconscious behaviour. By making you aware of each time, you’ll stop the habit of touching your face. How is that even possible? A gravimeter inside the band uses a personalisable algorithm to track hand position and alert you instantly to any hazardous gestures.
Fitbit app to detect face-touching: JalapeNO!
The University of Hawaii professor designed an app called JalapeNO for the fitness tracker to help people remember to stop touching their faces. What exactly does it? If you try to touch your face with a Fitbit tracker on, it will vibrate to remind you not to touch. You can download the app for 99 cents on Jalapenoapp.com. Kim Binsted, the developer of the app, is also working on a version for the Apple Watch.
Webapp that detects face touching: Donottouchyourface.com
Developed by Mike Bodge, Brian Moore, and Isaac Blankensmith, this website uses your webcam and alerts you when you touch your face. In this case, you train a machine-learning algorithm to recognise you touching your face and not touching your face.
Similar to the above website, it uses the webcam/front camera on your computer/phone with advanced machine learning techniques to alert you when you touch your face. If you touch the face, you’ll hear ‘beep,’ making you aware.
This tool helps you become aware of when you touch your face and reduce how often it happens over time. Marc Stogaitis and Mimi Sun created DontTouchFace.com, where it uses computer vision to detect the location of your face and hand and warns you if they intersect.
DIY: Use an overhead projector film!
Overhead projector film can be a fantastic face shield if you have a 3D printer. How? Build a personal protective mask using printers to fashion a headband with overhead projector transparency film cut for the shields. There you go! If you don’t have a printer, make four holes, thread the arms of glasses.
This sort-of-watch will prevent you from touching face!
Yet another wearable that you can make on your own to prevent you from touching the face. This sort-of-watch device attached to your wrist will buzz, thanks to tilt switch activation when your arm raises in a face touching direction. You can develop this wearable on your own.
DIY: Facetouch alert device!
It’s time to build another wearable setup that houses a magnet which acts as a signalling device, and a sensor circuit located on clothing on the upper chest near the collar. Sounds like an arc reactor? This device works by buzzing or beeping as either hand approaches the face.
Well, it might look complicated, but can be made in less than 5 minutes using a handful of components, each of which costs less than a dollar, a little soldering, and some adhesive tape. You can check out here.
Simple yet effective method!
If the above methods don’t suit you, then use a bright or colourful wristband, or paint your nails with colourful nail varnish, to have a visual alert when you bring your hand close to the face.
Untested: if you try this, please post results here.
Main image credits: Aleksey Boyko/Shutterstock
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