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InnovationRCA start-up Orbel Health helps healthcare workers and NFL players stay safe

RCA alumnus and Orbel Health Founder, Adam Sutcliffe’s Dyson award-winning wearable hand sanitiser device The Orbel™ is intuitively designed to encourage the habit of hand hygiene in healthcare, and has just been contracted to supply the National Football League in the USA. 

Orbel’s unique design was originally conceived in 2006 when Adam Sutcliffe was an MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) student. Adam and his classmates were challenged to solve a problem where people either lived, worked or played.

Hospital acquired infections are a global problem. With bacteria and viruses constantly being brought into hospitals by patients, visitors and staff, a major challenge for health care workers is how to stop bacteria and viruses spreading among patient populations. While washing hands seems like a simple solution, the World Health Organisation has shown that there is a lack of compliance to baseline standards among health care workers worldwide. This is where portable and user-friendly hygiene equipment like Orbel has become part of the design led solutions to problems posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Orbel’s design allows it to be easily clipped on to a belt or pocket, or to be hung from the neck – perfect for busy people doing physical jobs with a lot of human contact. The hand sanitiser is distributed through a set or roller balls: the user swipes one hand across the unit to deposit the sanitiser gel, and rubs both hands together to distribute the gel evenly. The device was designed to make this swiping action habit forming. Adam explained:

‘The action required is similar to when you wipe your dirty hands and it feels nice when you use it, it is a very tactile experience. We think its use triggers the pleasure-reward response, as its use appears to become a habit very quickly.’

The pandemic has seen demand for their products increase exponentially as hospitals try to keep up with the need for adequate sanitisation essentials. To meet the demand, Orbel has increased production capacity by 500% and Adam is now busy expanding production into new factories. With other organisations such as schools as well as casinos, restaurants, spas and now sports organisations such as the NFL tapping in to their innovative products to keep people safe, they are increasingly seeing demand for their intuitive sanitisation device in unexpected areas.

‘Pre Covid-19 our expectation for production was 300,000 units for the year. We’ve already produced over one million units this year. We are now producing 25,000 Orbels a day and expect to produce 3 million Orbels by the end of 2020.’