The Optimist Citizen

Student innovators build a pocket-sized pen-drive sanitizer that disinfects surfaces in 3 seconds

The pen-drive device, called UV Astra, emits a combination of UVA and UVC lights to quickly disinfect surfaces when attached to a mobile phone. The device is an instant and handy solution to sanitise belongings when we go out.

Being wary of the surfaces we touch is the new normal. A door handle, an elevator button or a banknote could be carrying the virus that has held the world hostage for the past few months. So, we now need to disinfect every surface we encounter, and that usually involves wiping them with bleach or an alcohol-based solution. But you cannot simply fit these into your pockets and they all need to be refilled regularly. 

UV Astra

What if you had a pocket-sized solution that never needs to be refilled and can get the job done in a few seconds? Anant Mittal and Shubham Yennawar have created exactly that in the form of ‘UV Astra.’ These civil engineering students from IIT-Guwahati built a nano ultra-violet device that can kill viruses and bacteria. This device can sterilise the surface within five to ten seconds. It is shaped like a pen drive and contains a miniature lamp that emits UV-A and UV-C lights and has a sterilisation rate of 99.9%.

Using UV lights for sanitation is not exactly new. The market is filled with consumer products utilising UV lights for disinfection. However, it is the unique combination of features that UV Astra provides that make it stand out. Its demure size, low cost, and ability to connect to a smartphone makes it a compelling tool. The team made conscious decisions on making the product easy to use and handle. It intentionally omits a battery to make the device safer, cheaper, and lighter. “The virus has devastated so many lives already. People need some tech for themselves so that they could go out to work without any fear.”, says Anant who wishes to get the device in everyone’s hands. UV-Astra is being manufactured in India. The company is planning to team up with hyperlocal resellers to generate local employment for people. The move will both serve the purpose of sanitisation and employment among people.

Born in the humble city of Roorkee, Anant was always passionate about technology. He was fascinated with how gadgets can solve problems both big and small. As a matter of fact, UV-Astra isn’t the first solution he came up with during the pandemic. His startup ‘Racerfly’ developed automated drones that could sanitise large surfaces easily. These drones could be operated through a mobile app to manoeuvre the spraying of sanitisers up to 20 Litres. The solution proposed would drastically reduce the risk of frontline workers and yet ensure safety in large areas.

We had the pleasure of talking to Anant Mittal and got to learn more about the work. Here’s how it went :

Is there any risk involved with UV rays? Are there any precautions we should keep in mind? 

All precautions are very basic and obvious. It’s like using a knife, you can always cut your finger if you are not cautious. It’s likewise for this device. One should not deliberately project it on human skin. It is okay if there is some contact with the skin during the sterilisation process. But do not intentionally use it on human skin or use it on your eyes. 

Can this device cover larger surfaces? 

Our device is made for personal use. The bigger the lamp gets, the bigger the risk is from exposure to UV rays. Bigger lamps are used in COVID dedicated hospitals. But the room is emptied when that is used. Or the operator is using specialised kits while using it. Our product focused on getting things for a common man at an individual level

How cost-effective is this going to be?

The device is available at a range of Rs 1200 to 1300 depending upon the type of USB point in the phone. You can power the device from your mobile phone for around 5,000 hours. The amount of money spent on buying sanitisers would be huge in the coming months. However, buying this at once will refrain your pockets from most recurring spending. Hence, this is very cost-efficient in the long run.


Where can we buy this product from?  

It can be ordered from Amazon or from our website. Currently, it’s only available online but we are trying to collaborate with local resellers for the product.


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