London, Jun 19: Scientists have developed an 'intelligent' keyboard, which warns its users when it needs cleaning. The flat silicone keyboard flashes a red light when it needs to be cleaned and the light turns off after it has been wiped down. It is also covered with a hypo-allergenic material resistant to bacterial growth.
A study by UCLH microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson last month showed that average keyboard was five times dirtier than a toilet seat. Swabs taken from office and hospital desks revealed 150 times the recommended limit for bacteria, the study found. ''Should somebody have a cold in your office, or even have gastroenteritis, you're very likely to pick it up from a keyboard,'' said Dr Wilson, who helped invent the keyboard.
Traditional keyboards are high-risk areas in hospitals because they can harbour bacteria and cannot be cleaned with water or fluids.
Keyboard covers are also to blame for spreading infection because they are rarely cleaned so hospital workers who use them spread potentially lethal bacteria.
''Doctors and nurses were going from patient to keyboard without washing their hands. That's quite understandable because you would wash your hands between patients but not between a patient and a keyboard,'' Dr Wilson told the Daily Mail.
The new type of computer keyboard has hidden sensors to make sure its surfaces are cleaned properly with alcohol wipes. It has also been incorporated with a warning light system that activates every three or 12 hours.
Research by microbiologists at UCLH has proved that bacterial levelsb on the new style keyboards fall by 70 per cent if they are cleaned every 12 hours.