Japanese Fast Food Joints Have The Best Sanitation Solution For Your Phone

Washing your hands before a meal may be a basic hygiene practice, but if your phone eats first so you can snap those stunning food photos, you could be nullifying the benefits of lathering up. After all, your hands are likely on your phone in various places throughout the day, from shops or school to public transportation or even the bathroom, meaning there's plenty of opportunity to transfer germs to its surface. In fact, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona says that a phone can actually harbor ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat, and a 2017 study revealed that some phones had 17,032 bacterial gene copies on the back surface. However, one company may have found a solution.

WOTA, a Japanese company dedicated to sustainable water solutions, has created a product called Wosh that was made for handwashing but also features a phone sanitizer that disinfects your phone in the same amount of time it takes to wash your hands. The company says that the UV-powered 30-second process provides 99.9% sterilization of phones.

How does Wosh work?

Wosh is a barrel-shaped contraption that requires only a power source. The portable hand-washing system reuses water utilizing an AI-powered filtration process. When users wash their hands, sensors activate a light around the basin with a countdown glow for 30 seconds to indicate the proper hand-washing time.

Adjacent to the basin is a thin slot where users can slip their phones. The phone gently descends into the slot before a lid snaps shut over the top. Then, the UV light is activated to sanitize the phone. Afterward, the lid opens, and the phone is elevated for the user to retrieve it.

Since the Wosh does not require a water source, it can be set up anywhere, from public places to restaurants and workspaces. It's also relatively maintenance-free, with cartridges only needing replacement every 2,000 washes. There's no indication on the site of how often the phone sanitizing UV light needs to be replaced, but the typical amount of time a UV light will continue to fight bacteria is about 9000 hours or one year.

Where are Woshes?

The Wosh was in development in early 2020, but its production was expedited after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. By late 2020, the company had distributed 20 Woshes throughout Ginza public spaces and had 4,000 more that had been ordered.

By 2022, Woshes had been installed in many shopping areas and workplaces, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. However, it was later in the year, when Twitter user @shao1555 made a video post of the phone sanitizer function on a Wosh in a McDonald's, that the Wosh got widespread attention. Per Japan Today, the caption says, "At McDonald's nowadays, not only do they have a place to wash your hands but one to wash your smartphone as well..."

While the Woshes are not at every Mcdonald's in the area, one McDonald's manager, Akane Fujimaki, had glowing remarks about the product at his restaurant, saying, "WOSH gives the impression that [this] is a store that cares about cleanliness, and I think it has become a presence that gives customers a sense of security."

While Reuters reported in 2020 that parties in the United States had expressed interest in the Wosh, so far, there do not seem to be indications that the product has made its way to the country. For now, the convenience of disinfecting your phone while you wash your hands appears to only be available at restaurants, salons, stores, and other businesses in Japan.