Germ of an Idea

Auburn Hills company uses UVC light to eliminate pathogens.
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Velocilinx's Germinator
Magic Wand: To kill germs in seconds, Velocilinx in Auburn Hills developed the Germinator, a UVC light-powered device that kills 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. It costs $139. // Courtesy of Velocilinx

A business trip took a turn for the worse when Kathleen Murray became seriously ill in Shanghai and was turned away from a hospital that only treated Chinese citizens.

While she eventually got help, the episode was the most serious illness she had while traveling, and it strengthened her desire to ditch hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes for a portable, chemical-free cleaning solution.

Murray was used to becoming sick during or soon after business trips from airports, jets, hotel rooms, and public spaces — all staples when traveling that are often teeming with germs.

In 2016, she joined Velocilinx — the company name is a nod to both velocity and links, or making connections — as chief creative officer and president of global sales. The Auburn Hills-based company specializes in gaming, medical technology, mobile power, audio, and smart home products. In 2018, work began on the Germinator, a UVC light-powered wand that kills 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria.

Originally set to be available later this year, the Germinator was launched in April in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s available at velocilinx.com for $139.

“We’re moving as quickly as possible to bring products to market to help,” says John Dimovski, president and CEO of Velocilinx.

The wand shines UVC light, a type of ultraviolet light that’s given off by the sun but doesn’t make it through the ozone layer of the atmosphere. It is destructive to cells — the light damages pathogens’ RNA or DNA, Murray says, ultimately killing them. The 16-inch wand can be used on hard or soft surfaces.

Here’s how it works: Users turn on the light and, holding it an inch or two above a surface, sweep it slowly back and forth five to 10 times, with up to 10 sweeps required for soft surfaces. About a minute later, pathogens on the surface die, the company states.

The Germinator has 20 UVC LED modules and folds closed so it can fit in bags. While it won’t immediately damage skin, the light shouldn’t be used on people, animals, or plants, due its ability to destroy cells.

To prevent accidents, Murray and Dimovski had safety features built into the wand. A child lock on the side of the Germinator keeps it turned off even if children press the “on” button. Once unlocked, users must press the button quickly two times to turn the lights on.

The wand automatically turns its lights off when flipped upside down, so people can’t shine the light in their eyes. As an extra precaution, the wand comes with anti-UV goggles to wear while in use.

Tested by 360° Product Testing in New York, the wand has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Murray says. Velocilinx has also donated wands to hospitals and nursing homes. “We want to give back and affect change,” she says.

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