Jacksonville Business Journal – by Stewart Verney
A local company has begun shipping a washable keyboard and mouse made of antimicrobial plastic.
Seal Shield LLC's Silver Seal keyboard is aimed primarily at the health care market, said CEO Brad Whitchurch, though he expects other markets to latch onto the product as well.
"The health care market is definitely the low-hanging fruit," he said. "Two million people a year get a hospital infection, and close to 100,000 die."
The company estimates U.S. hospitals have two keyboards for every three employees, meaning the domestic market alone could be worth $450 million. Seal Shield has deals with Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Banner Health.
Seal Shield introduced a washable, dishwasher-safe keyboard last year and has shipped about 10,000 of them. The new product is the same design, Whitchurch said, but silver ions are embedded in the plastic in the manufacturing process. Silver is a natural antibacterial agent.
"The antibacterial plastic we're using is kind of the latest and greatest based on silver ion technology," he said.
The new keyboards retail for about $70, though the price drops to about $45 if ordered through certain distributors, such as Dell.
Whitchurch said 48 states require hospitals to report infections acquired at the hospital. That requirement and the advent of resistant strains of MRSA and Norovirus make the keyboards even more attractive to health care companies.
And after hospitals, he said, there are other natural markets, such as libraries, schools and food processing companies.