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Reopening public spaces safely: How a simple antimicrobial gadget could ease post-lockdown anxiety

One company is hoping to ease this post-lockdown anxiety with a simple but remarkably effective new gadget. Fractory, a cloud-based sheet metal manufacturing startup based in the UK, has designed an innovation called the SafeKey.

Now that the COVID-19 lockdown is easing in many countries, public spaces are slowly starting to reopen. These include office and workspaces, as well as public spaces such as bars and restaurants. 

But after months of worries about the spread and devastating impact of coronavirus, it’s understandable that many people are very nervous about heading back out into potentially crowded public spaces.  

According to organizational psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper: “We’re still rightly focused on beating and treating the virus, but there will come a time when we need to address people’s legitimate anxieties around leaving the home, being in public space and going back into work. People will have genuine concerns around issues such as hygiene and contamination.

“Workplaces in particular will need to do a lot of planning to minimise anxiety around returning to work. And it will have to go further than extra cleaning and ensuring employees can keep a safe distance from one another. People will need regular updates on the steps their employers are taking to keep them safe.”

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One company is hoping to ease this post-lockdown anxiety with a simple but remarkably effective new gadget. Fractory, a cloud-based sheet metal manufacturing startup based in the UK, has designed an innovation called the SafeKey. 

Produced using Fractory’s own laser cutting technology, it’s an antimicrobial multi-tool which aims to make many parts of everyday life ‘hands-free’. It does this by reducing the need to touch potentially contaminated surfaces wherever possible. 

The hope is that along with other safety measures, including wearing masks and social distancing, personal gadgets such as this can make people feel less anxious about returning to life as normal. They can use public transport, head into work and use public facilities such as restaurant toilets while limiting potential exposure to coronavirus droplets wherever possible. 

This should make it easier to get back into normal everyday routines, without having to worry about sanitising surfaces or washing hands every time a door handle is used. 

How the SafeKey works

Fractory’s SafeKey can be used on door handles, ATM machines, elevator buttons and for many other functions where it would otherwise be necessary to touch a surface with your hand. It can be attached to clothing such as a belt with an extendable cord, so it’s easy and quick to pull out and use. 

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As for what makes the SafeKey antimicrobial, it’s all to do with the material it’s made from. Fractory have used CZ108 grade brass containing copper, which is known to kill COVID-19 quicker than other materials. In order to provide a hostile environment to the virus, there must be at least 58% copper in the mix – the SafeKey alloy contains 64% copper. 

Explaining where the idea for the SafeKey came from, Fractory CEO Martin Vares says: “We wanted to ensure the safety of the people in our own company which resulted in this idea. While there were similar products on offer, we created ours from brass, which is known for its anti-microbial properties and added a few more functionalities to SafeKey. 

“As it proved really popular among our team and their families, we decided to bring it to the public.”

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