The products we carry on a daily basis in our pockets, purses and backpacks can start to weigh us down yet certainly reveal a lot about our gender, our regional and cultural environments and our socio-economic status is life. We feel naked without our watches or glasses and uncomfortable on the off day we forget or misplace our smartphones or chargers or headphones. Our pockets are heavy with keys and mobile devices and collections of bank, access and transportation cards, and for many, the reusable travel mug or water bottle has become an extension of our hands. And while some of these ‘everyday essentials’ gradually make their way in and out of our lives as models are upgraded and technology improves, sometimes an event or personal experience forces us to change or adapt what we carry. It’s therefore in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic that we find Hygiene Hand – a small key-like tool that promotes germ-free contact with the surfaces and machines we encounter daily.

The Hygiene Hand replaces your finger or knuckle when pushing an elevator or ATM button. It’s a substitute for a stylus when signing a touchscreen for a delivery or at a retail check-out counter. In fact, it was standing in line at a pharmacy, picking up a prescription in the looming shadow of the coronavirus pandemic that founder Avi Goldstein, CEO of StatGear, was inspired to create this product. The thought of signing the touchscreen that had been handled by countless other customers was the spark that motivated him and his team to produce a viable prototype within 72 hours.

As a former New York City paramedic, Avi Goldstein is all too familiar with emergency situations. His interest in tactical tools for safety and survival began during his paramedic training. What started, in 2010 as a sideline from his home, working exclusively with freelance industrial designers and engineers quickly turned into a business that now employs a full-time team of eight. With knowledge from the field and as many business loans as he could accrue, Goldstein began to develop and patent innovative products primarily for the survival and rescue industry. These niche products soon became mainstream, particularly with outdoor enthusiasts and Goldstein responded by shifting the product development to include more outdoor or everyday carry (EDC) tools and gear.

To date, their most popular item is the SuperVizor XT, an auto escape tool that has a seatbelt cutting blade and carbide tip window punch to break through car windows or a windshield in the event of an emergency. This small tool is always accessible via a custom sheath that attaches to a car’s sun visor. About this product, Avi said, “we get so many emails from first responders and the general public telling us their stories how they were in an accident or witnessed an accident and how this tool helped save someone’s life. That feedback is what makes all the hard work worth the effort!”

While the auto escape tool may not become an EDC for all, the Hygiene Hand certainly might. Made of brass (70% copper, 30% zinc) to capitalize on copper’s inherently antimicrobial properties and zinc’s rigidity, this object weighs under 2 ounces. With no sharp points or edges, it cannot be mistaken for a weapon and reportedly does not pose any risks of being confiscated by transportation security agents at airports.

During the product’s first three days from concept to prototype, various tests were conducted by Avi and his team to perfect the shape with an in-house waterjet cutter until they were satisfied with the design and functionality. Armed once again with a small business loan to start the production within a US-based factory, the team simultaneously turned to Kickstarter to spread the word. The original campaign goal of $5,000 USD was funded within the first few hours, and as of 22 April 2020 has over $535,000 USD pledged. The first production run has been completed and is set to ship before the beginning of May 2020.

As for what Avi carries himself as EDC items? “My personal EDC essentials are a watch, phone, wallet, pen, keychain knife (for small cutting jobs like opening a package), pocketknife (for larger jobs).” The Hygiene Hand will surely be included in his arsenal.

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