Smart devices, such as cell phones and tablets, are exceedingly portable and powerful in meeting the needs of their users. As such, it is no wonder that they are taken seemingly everywhere (e.g., restaurants, gyms, and possibly even the bathroom). Yet, how many people clean their cell phones daily, weekly, or ever? According to an informal test done in a Wall Street Journal article, all of the randomly chosen cell phones had a high concentration of coliform bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control describes coliform bacteria as being present in the intestinal tracts of humans and being commonly used to gauge the presence of more harmful pathogens.
A Japanese company, Takara Tomy, with a history of making toy robots, may have developed a solution for maintaining hygienic, smart devices. The Auto Mee S appears similar to the iRobot's line of housework-oriented robots; yet, instead of cleaning floors, the Auto Mee S cleans the screens of smart devices. As Takara Tomy's website is completely in Japanese, Gizmag reports that the robot polishes via two, spinning discs and takes approximately 4 to 8 minutes, depending on screen size. The Auto Mee S will be available in March in various colors, including white, pink, orange, and blue, for around $17.
While the Auto Mee S is a novelty item, it does emphasize the importance of regularly cleaning one's smart devices. According to Apple and Samsung (i.e., two of the largest cell phone and tablet manufacturers), one should never use any cleaning liquids, but instead use a lint-free cloth to wipe off the device’s screen. Therefore, as cleaning liquids and rough paper towels may easily damage one’s hardware, a better option may be to utilize a cover. Otterbox, a popular case manufacturer, states on their FAQ that their Defender Series cases can be cleaned with soap and water, and then gently dried to prevent scratching. In sum, the best advice to limit the presence of pathogens on your smart device is to regularly wipe down your device (either manually or via the Auto Mee S) and, if possible, use a case that can act as an additional physical barrier as well as be thoroughly washed.
If your device or case is from another manufacturer, please check their specific website or contact them directly to determine their recommendations. Finally, perform these instructions at your own risk to yourself and/or your property.