According to a 2008 study conducted for England’s Which? magazine, computer keyboards can contain up to five times the amount of bacteria as toilet seats. This is particularly yucky news for users of public or shared keyboards, who are being exposed to other peoples' bacteria. In settings such as hospitals, where doctors and nurses share keyboards, it’s a situation that definitely should be addressed. Fortunately, a study recently conducted at the University of Hertfordshire determined that an ultraviolet light device very effectively sanitizes keyboards.

The Hertfordshire researchers tested a product called the Germ Genie, which is being introduced this week at Liverpool's Total Workplace Management show. It senses finger movement on a keyboard, and automatically shines bacteria-killing UV light down onto the keys once that movement has ceased for a preset period of time – that period can be varied, depending on how busy the computer station is. Because intense UV light is dangerous to skin, the device automatically shuts the light off if it detects fingers on the keyboard during one of its sanitizing cycles.

It was found that the Genie killed 99 percent of the germs across most of the keyboard in two minutes, and across the whole keyboard in ten minutes. Similar results were attributed last year to the Viogaurd, a custom keyboard that slides back into a UV lamp-equipped case when not in use.

The Germ Genie is available through the Falcon Innovations website, for a price of UKP140 (about US$222).