It was probably about time that we became acutely aware of the unseen dangers that lurked in corners and surfaces, particularly the viruses and microorganisms that lie in wait on tables, door knobs, and handles for days. Unfortunately, it’s hard to break old habits of touching things without much thought, especially when it involves something as trivial as wiping down handles and surfaces before using them. Those who do try to develop good habits, on the other hand, will discover that there isn’t that much support for making it convenient to keep surfaces clean without doing too much work. That is especially a problem in very public spaces like supermarkets, where everything is exposed to dozens of people touching almost everything. This is the reason for this odd round device’s existence, to make cleaning such surfaces, specifically shopping cart handles, as easy as inserting a coin.
Designer: Xinyu Ye
It doesn’t take too much effort to wipe something down before using it, especially if it’s something that tends to be used by multiple people. The problem and the inconvenience come from not having the right tools for the job, which is often a pack of wet wipes in your bag or pocket. Alternatively, you could just spray it with alcohol, presuming you’re carrying a bottle all the time, but the end result could be a sticky, wet, and almost gross handle that will still leave you feeling dirty in the end.
Truth be told, customers in a store shouldn’t be waging a crusade against germs on their own. While it has become customary for many businesses to provide hand sanitizer dispensers at key points in an area, those just aren’t enough for high-traffic, high-contact areas like supermarkets. It’s about time that companies and businesses also step up their sanitation game, and this device, partially inspired by a mushroom, is one gadget that could help them improve their customer safety and satisfaction.
At first glance, SLIBALL almost looks like some futuristic sci-fi device, especially thanks to its sleek shape and glossy white or black surface. It has a hole that goes through its roughly cuboid body where the handle of a shopping cart would pass through. The core idea is that the device would sanitize the shopping cart handle it’s attached to using UV-C light. And rather than forcing a shopper to take an extra step, SLIBALL can be integrated into the process of claiming a cart right from the start.
Some shopping centers and supermarkets require you to insert a coin to unlock a shopping cart, and this same coin can be used to activate SLIBALL. The device starts sterilizing the handle automatically and can even be slid across the length of the handle to cover all the spots. Once done, the “head” of the device pops up like a mushroom after the rain and returns the coin to the owner in the process. It’s actually a simple concept that few have probably considered, but given our present circumstances, it is an avenue worth investigating. It could even become a profitable business for sanitation device manufacturers, especially as more and more people go back to doing groceries in person.