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Luma is a revolutionary take on conventional home cleaning. Instead of soap, Luma uses antimicrobial UV-C light beamed through optical fibre bristles. This project was awarded 2nd Place in the PDMA White Space Design Challenge.

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Design Research, Innovation Strategy, Idea Development, Industrial Design, Manufacturing Engineering


Product Development Management Association - White Space Design Challenge




Gavin Brehm, Jacob Hullings, Peter Hartman, Cristabella Wolff, Nicholas Halim

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Traditional antibacterial cleaners are unsafe and unsustainable.

How might we democratize hospital-grade sanitation technology for use at home?

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99.9% of bacteria gets killed by traditional chemical cleaners

The surviving 0.1% become antibiotic-resistant "superbugs"

Chemicals washed into streams and rivers pollute the environment and food chain

UV is non-polluting and does not breed superbugs. UV cleaning also avoids other health issues associated with traditional cleaning products, such as exacerbating asthma and rhinitis. 

So why isn't UV cleaning more popular?


We conducted 28 qualitative studies with a diverse set of homeowners, who were given a collection of cleaning products and asked them to clean a kitchen and bathroom. We tracked hand movements (cumulative hand movement data visualized above), grip positions and product choice, and quantitatively analyzed these data afterwards. We also held interviews with students in rental apartments, parents, and health-care professionals.

In user's minds, 

being clean  ≠  feeling clean


While UV sanitation wands effectively sterilize bacteria, they do not look, feel, or clean like conventional cleaning products.

Combine the efficacy of UV sterilization with the consumer psychology of tactile cleaning products. 


What if we beamed UV light through a bundle of optical fibers in a brush formation?

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We began our engineering process with material selection, looking for materials with high environmental resistance (UV, water, brine, weak acids and alkalis), high hardness, high fracture toughness, high refractive index, and recyclability.

We prototyped appropriate materials in various form factors and tested each prototype with an array of 275nm LEDs in a spectroscopy lab to measure the intensity of UV-C light passing through each brush.

Spectroscopy testing showed us that HDPE was our best option, with a 28.7% UV passthrough rate.


That said, HDPE degrades over time due to UV exposure. We decided to use HDPE plasticized with a biocompatible oil to prevent harmful by-products during degradation, and opted for a razor and blades business model based on replaceable, recyclable brush heads.

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We designed Luma with the perfect handle.


We sketched multiple designs and 3D printed handles at 6 different angles, of 7 different lengths, with 7 different cross-sectional shapes. We conducted another focus group with every handle permutation, and determined the ideal handle angle (30 deg), length (6 in) and shape (circular).

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This project is a demonstration of how anthropology, engineering, design and business strategy can come together to overturn orthodoxies and revolutionize an industry. Luma sits at the intersection of future technology and cognitive psychology, and represents how I use interdisciplinary design to create desirable, feasible, and viable products.

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