Burnley : News

The COVID-combatting world’s first device distributed by Burnley business i4-Tech Ltd

  • The i4- Sanitiser Sentinel is a proximity sensor that reminds people to wash or sanitise their hands;
  • It’s the world’s first sanitiser dispenser assistant and the master distributer is Burnley business i4 -Tech Ltd, run by MD Stephen Etherington;
  • i4- Tech Ltd are now working to take the product to mass market, enabling them to grow and hire as many local people as possible.

One Burnley business is on a mission to help tackle COVID-19 by being the master distributor of a new technology in the UK and internationally.

I4- Tech Ltd was set up in July 2020 by Stephen Etherington after he was made redundant due to the pandemic. He originally worked on the distribution of contactless temperature screening, before seeing a BBC news report about an inventor who had created the world’s first proximity sanitiser dispenser assistant.

The system is simple yet effective – it is placed above hand sanitising stations and upon recognising that an individual is approaching, reminds them to sanitise their hands, also whilst shining a spotlight on the sanitiser.

“The i4 -Sanitising Sentinel really is the unmanned police officer of sanitisation. I stood at the front of one supermarket and during my time there, not one person sanitised their hands. I appreciate many do it in the car before getting out, but you just don’t know if they then go on to cough or sneeze in their hands before getting inside and touching things. The same applies to businesses of all kinds.

“If we are getting ready to reopen the economy, we need to make sure people follow a clean hands policy. Janitorial companies have reported a big drop in hand sanitiser sales and we’ve got to question whether people are getting complacent with sanitising their hands,” Stephen told Burnley.co.uk.

He explained a BBC report about inventor Vivian Blick creating the Sentinel really caught his attention. At the time, i4- Tech Ltd were distributing and installing contactless temperature scanning equipment after Stephen noticed that handheld temperature guns required the two-metre rule on social distancing to be broken. The Sentinel seemed a natural fit with the Burnley business and after several conversations between Mr Blick and i4- Tech Ltd, it now has master distribution rights in the UK and internationally.

“Currently there are only 5,000 Sentinels in the world and they are all in the UK. Interest has really blown up in the last few days – I’ve had people reach out to me from Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, India and Malaysia, to name just a few.

“One hospital alone has noticed a 200 per cent increase in the use of hand sanitiser. I’m also in talks with the EG Group, led by the brothers from Blackburn who recently purchased Asda, and they’re definitely interested in rolling this out across the group. They kindly let me do an experiment with them. We watched the reception at their head office and not everyone was sanitising their hands at the entrance. I then fitted the Sentinel and it was like someone had switched on a magic button. It’s that audio-visual reminder that people sometimes need. Just like you sometimes leave your mask in the car and realise once you spot other shoppers wearing them, this is a similar trigger,” Stephen explained.

From Burnley to beyond

It certainly would be incredible if this device was to be rolled out across the globe, all from Burnley.

“I can’t think of any sector that wouldn’t require people to sanitise their hands upon entry. If this was to take off into the mass market, i4-Tech Ltd would need to rapidly grow and there would therefore be plenty of opportunities for us to hire local people.”

Furthermore, the Sentinel is less than £100.00 plus VAT. Companies can select from 20 languages and also record their own messages. You can watch a video of how it works here.

Stephen told us that he wants to “put Burnley on the map for being a forward-thinking town in preventing the spread of COVID”. He is also passionate about the talented people in our town.

He started his career at FH Browns, the office equipment business ran by brothers Andrew and David Brown.

“They were really good at nurturing talent and many of their employees have gone on to do great things. Look at Matt Riley – I introduced Matt into his selling career and now he owns Daisy Communications.”

Another local success story is Chris Baldwin, who runs various companies including Sugden Ltd, which patented the technology to make giant crumpets (and what an incredible invention they are!).

Sugden Ltd has the i4- Tech contactless temperature checking equipment and the i4-Sanitiser Sentinels across its business. Employees can be tracked as they move throughout the building and if their temperature goes above 37.7 degrees C, a notification is sent to HR. That individual is taken to a safe area to check they are OK and then it is suggested they go for a COVID test. It is technology that both Warburtons during site visits and the Health and Safety Executive ‘COVID spot-check team’ have been incredibly impressed with.

We wish i4-Tech Ltd all the best with their growth and for their determination to put Burnley further on the map.