The competition in the emerging mobile health segment could soon move beyond apps into the physical realm if Samsung follows through on one of its latest patent applications. Detailed inside is a new kind of phone cover that employs technology from the industrial world to clear your screen of germs and other foreign substances every time you close the lid.
The top panel in the illustration represents the cover’s sanitization panel, which employs ultraviolet light transmitted along the full length of the display to destroy contaminants left behind after the user logs off. It’s the same approach that has been used in large-scale food processing and water purification for the past century, save one important detail.
The light comes not from the cover but the display itself, which merely serves the secondary purpose of exciting the electrons in the titanium dioxide layered on the sanitization panel. That interaction releases a highly reactive hydroxyl radical of the kind produced by your immune cells to combat certain pathogens that does short work of any organic material caught in the way.
The superoxide compound produced in conjunction amplifies the effect to the point where the cover can not only clear fungi and bacteria but also potentially much more basic material like fingerprints, all without having a single moving or electronic component. The lid simply exploits the existing pressure sensor on newer Galaxy S models to have the firmware set the display to the 385-nanometer wavelength needed to trigger the titanium dioxide.
The use of existing functionality will enable Samsung to price the cover at a fairly accessible price point should the illustrations ever leave the drawing board, but also limits its usefulness to mobile devices. At least in the current form. There’s therotically nothing stopping the company from adapting the technology to other types of monitors like point-of-sale systems, which come into contact with upwards of hundreds of hands every day.