Local fashion designer, engineer partner to create device aimed at reducing spread of germs
LAFAYETTE - In the midst of the war against novel coronavirus, most of the world has become hyper-aware of how easily germs can spread.
Local fashion designer and expectant mother Christina Barbier is no different, but she's doing more than washing her hands with due diligence.
According to The Advocate, Barbier has rolled up her sleeves and created wearable technology to help people stay as germ-free as possible.
Barbier is the founder of Face Touch Alert, a wearable device that alerts its users every time they touch their face.
Experts agree that one of the ways people spread germs is by touching other objects and then touching their own face. In a normal setting, such a seemingly harmless habit would have mild to moderate consequences. But during a virus pandemic, it's vital to avoid frequently touching one's face.
That's why Barbier is eager to get her technology out to the public.
"Timing is so critical," Barbier said. "We want to get this out to market right away."
"I own two businesses, I have a 5-year-old, and I'm pregnant," Barbier said during a March phone interview with The Advocate. "And I'm crazy because I'm a can't-stop-won't-stop-won't-accept-no-for-an-answer kind of a person."
The owner of Maven's Womenswear and Daylily in River Ranch explains the passion that fuels her tenacity, saying, "Something happens to you when you have a baby. It makes you want to just take on the world. You want to be the best version of yourself for your kid. It's fascinating. Your children motivate you to levels you never thought you could reach."
Barbier has selected a team of engineers to complete the first version of Face Touch Alert and she's partnered with Dave Borski, a San Antonio-based electrical engineer to develop the technology that makes Face Touch Alert valuable.
Borski, who has worked with NASA to calibrate equipment for the International Space Station, said he was thrilled to team up with Barbier and bring her innovative idea to fruition.
"I thought it was a fantastic idea," Borski said. "I think we really have something that's going to have a long-term impact on health and safety — not just during the immediate threat we're facing — but in any industry where you don't want people touching their faces. There's an emerging market for this."Borski and Barbier envision Face Touch Alert becoming a useful tool for employers.
The silicone products would gently alert users through vibration or sound when their hands are approaching their faces.
It could be useful not just for those in the healthcare and food-service industries, but also for those who work with chemicals that can burn skin.
"We're pushing for it to be the most high-tech low-tech piece of technology out there," Barbier said. "We're trying to bring it to the market for $29, but the price point will depend on the demand."
The wearable technology uses different types calibrated sensors that work together to determine movement and proximity. It's not so different from a pedometer tracking steps or a wireless controller communicating with a video game console.
"We're developing something that's very accurate and low-tech in terms of not having a high price like Apple products but something that's smart enough to where it's going to be reliable," Borski said.
The first version of the product will include two bracelets and a necklace or pendant.
Face Touch Alert's future products could include alternative wearable options, such as rings and clips for earbuds and glasses.
The tech product won't be available for another two or three months more, but Barbier and Borski are hoping to gauge interest before beginning production. Those interested in learning more can visit ftalert.com.