Viruses are as old as time. Wearables are not. Now, the two are duking it out over COVID-19.
Samsung has introduced a handwashing app for Galaxy Watch owners. It’s designed to help users embrace a vital habit that infectious-disease specialists say can keep you safe from the coronavirus, which has already killed more than 100,000 people in the United States.
The key to handwashing—what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compared to a “do-it-yourself vaccine”—is frequency and thoroughness.
The app uses an alarm to remind users to wash their hands several times and then sets a timer for the ideal amount of time needed for a rigorous wash—20 seconds, plus five seconds to soap your mitts.
According to a University College London study, washing your hands between six and 10 times a day reduces your risk of contracting COVID-19.
The app, which also lets you keep track of your handwashing, works on the Gear S3, Gear Sports, Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch Active, and Galaxy Watch Active. Its official name is Hand Wash, and you can learn all about it here.
Google, and Fitbit already have their own handwashing reminders, plus there are plenty of independent apps available that alert you it’s time to soap up again and Apple lets you play music for 20 seconds to time your suds session.
“It is a common adage that it takes 30 days to make a habit, and at a time when personal hygiene is more important than ever, best-practice hygiene should form part of everyone’s daily habits,” Samsung said in a written statement.
Myriam Sidibe, a handwashing expert who’s a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, said this is a great way for brands to show what they can do.
“Every hour after washing your hands with soap, your hands get recontaminated,” she continued. “You have to create nudges. You have to create reminders. It’s not enough to tell people you have to wash your hands.”
Here’s a fun fact to think about when you’re sudsing your paws, but are bored of singing “Happy Birthday” twice through: October 15 is Global Handwashing Day, created in 2008.