New safety tool at SEA Airport scans restaurant employee hands to ensure cleanliness

VIDEO: New safety tool at SEA Airport scans restaurant employee hands to ensure cleanliness

SEATTLE — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is bringing in new technology in the effort to fight COVID.

This latest one helps people wash hands more effectively. It takes just couple of extra seconds and the airport is testing it out at some restaurants.

A company called PathSpot Technologies launched the device that uses a special light to scan for contaminants on your hands. It will catch areas people tend to miss – like on your wrists or fingertips.

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“There’s there’s a lot of innovation out there,” said Perry Cooper, a spokesperson for the Port of Seattle.

Air travel at SEA is only about 30% of a normal summer day, but the number of travelers is slowly increasing on a daily average. The airport is working to make sure people are coming back to an airport that’s as safe as possible.

SEA started installing PathSpot at restaurants a few weeks ago. Capitol Hill Food Hall, which opened just before the pandemic, is one of the dozen restaurants at the airport testing it out.

“Oh it’s fantastic. It’s an extra layer of defense,” said Adam Fischer, the Director of Operations for SSP America at SEA Airport.

The CEO of PathSpot Technologies – a New York City based company – was in Seattle on Tuesday to possibly further expand in the area, and explained how it works.

“The device shines a specific wavelength of light to look for microscopic contamination on your hands,” said Christine Schindler, CEO of PathSpot. “Those tiny specs of contamination hide under your fingernails, between your jewelry, in the webs of hands,” she said.

The machine can tell you where you failed.

“It gives really tangible feedback. So hey, 98% of the time someone failed a hand scan at your restaurant location it was on your right pinky finger, or it was during the lunch rush,” Schindler said.

To be clear -- the scanner doesn’t look for the COVID virus. It scans for common contamination that is everywhere.

“Fecal contamination and vomitous gut biome bacteria - all of those disgusting things that are transmission vectors,” Schindler said.

If those particles are washed off your hands -- the machine tells you scan complete with a green icon. It means you’ve done a good job and any COVID virus you might’ve touched is likely washed off too.

“It’s an absolutely phenomenal tool,” Fisher said.

The operations manager said they’re so focused on cleanliness his employees have actually been passing every time. The CEO says new customers fail rates are usually about 20%.

Fisher says what he likes about the PathSpot is its data tracking aspect.

It tells you how often employees are washing and when.

“If we only have two scans, I’m going to say - we’re not washing our hands. So this becomes a coaching, training tool and helps us become better,” Fisher said.

The airport said the this machine might become standard.

“This is a pilot program right now – we’re trying to decide whether to use it throughout the rest of the terminal as well,” Cooper said. “At this point it’s going really well, we’re really happy with it,” he said.

SEA is looking to bring in other tech too - for example, a new app launching soon that will let you order food from any restaurant and pick it up, so you don’t have to cluster in line with anyone.

The pathspot units at the airport are located in --

Caffe D'Arte

Capital Hill Food Hall Evergreens

Africa Lounge

Hachi Ko

Lucky Louie

Pallino

Pei Wei

Qdoba

Trailhead BBQ

Bambuza

La Pisa