Canton Ophthalmologist Creates Pen-Cleaning Device Using UV Light

Steri-Write touchless pen sanitizer

How Steri-Write uses cutting-edge sanitation tech to clean pens used in healthcare settings

When you sign in at the doctor’s office, have you ever considered how many people have touched the pen you used to fill out your form? How many of those people are sick? How many are contagious? When was the last time the pen was cleaned? For ophthalmologist Brian Wind, these questions led to the creation of Steri-Write, a pen sanitizing system meant to quickly and efficiently clean one of the germiest items in healthcare.

“Many studies have demonstrated the fact that bacteria and viruses live on communal pens,” said Wind. “One recent study showed that 64% of communal pens are contaminated with some bacteria or virus that causes illnesses — from the common cold to more serious diseases. They also found that 6% of these were contaminated with MRSA, methicillin-resistant staph aureus, which is a very bad germ. We created Steri-Write to be the world’s first sanitizer that delivers a clean writing instrument on demand.”

Steri-Write uses germicidal UV-C light to clean the surfaces of the pens and other writing instruments. And in a world where people are more aware than ever of touching surfaces and keeping themselves safe, Steri-Write can be the solution.

“COVID-19 has brought about an awareness of communicable diseases and that’s positive,” said Wind. “We had interest before, but there has certainly been a lot more interest since COVID. People understand — they do not want to use community writing instruments or shared writing instruments.”

The technology may be launching at the perfect time, but it isn’t a new idea. Wind said he and many other healthcare professionals are engineering-oriented minds who simply chose to go to medical school. He said he’s always been a “gadget person,” and stumbled onto the idea years ago.

“This idea goes back a decade when I noticed that my pediatrician colleagues had two waiting rooms in their offices — one for healthy children visits and one for sick children visits — but they all signed in at the same window and used the same pens,” he said. “I thought it was a clever idea to keep the sick people away from the healthy people, but I thought we were missing something at the registration window. That’s where Steri-Write was born. I thought, ‘How can we do this in an efficient, effective manner?’ I realized that, if we could employ UVC light to give us a dry sanitizing or sterilization effect, it might be a game changer.”

Steri-Write is based in Canton, where Wind and his team work from the new Jumpstart office in town. Like many other projects that start small, Wind said Steri-Write’s launch has been aided by an Ohio startup environment that’s affordable and welcoming to new ideas and entrepreneurs. From their Canton home, Steri-Write is nearly ready to launch, already accepting hundreds of pre-orders from around the country in addition to a huge bulk order of 1,000 units from one large private company that saw Steri-Write at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in Ohio,” he said. “It’s cost-effective for design resources and living — unlike the coasts where most of your income goes to rent. All of your labor costs are more affordable, from your design team to mechanical engineers, when compared to other places in the country. And there are a lot of resources to take advantage of. We’ve been involved with JumpStart, Bounce Hub and others. We found their feedback and their courses to be extremely helpful and we attended a course on market validation, which was invaluable for us to be able to launch this product.”

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