Hacking automated hand sanitizers with Ben Heck

benheck_sanitizer

If you have visited a hospital any time recently, you probably noticed quite a few automated hand sanitizer dispensers scattered throughout the hallways and in each patient’s room. Since hospital-acquired infections are a growing problem, there has been a push for all personnel to use these hand sanitizers regularly to lessen the likelihood of spreading disease.

In the most recent episode of his web show, [Ben Heck] took on the challenge of hacking one of these dispensers to use motion sensors in order to sense when hospital personnel are near, as well as to remind them that they should sanitize their hands on the way out.

He disassembled the dispenser to see how it operated, then worked on replacing the IR sensor pair with a set of motion detectors. He hooked the motion sensors to a Propeller board, which uses a separate add-on board for keeping time. Once the motion sensors are triggered, the passer-by is given a window of time before the machine notifies them to kindly sanitize their hands. All movements and sanitizer dispensing events are logged to an SD card connected to the controller, which can be reviewed to ensure policy compliance.

If you have about 20 minutes to spare it’s worth checking out, and if you are interested in more hand washing tech, check out this DIY hand dryer we featured a while back.