But in the midst of a pandemic, such an ordinary habit can quickly become fatal – with our hands transferring germs from contaminated surfaces to our eyes, ears, nose or mouth.
“By watching this pandemic unveil the news, it was clear the devastating effect it was having on the lives of people around the world,” Max told CNN. “However, it wasn’t until I saw the severity of the virus myself, when both of my parents contracted Covid-19, that I really appreciated what we were dealing with.”
The watch works by recognizing the gestures associated with hand movements towards the face. By combining technology and unique algorithms to distinguish between the expected touches and other hand movements, the watch vibrates every time the wearer’s hand approaches the face. Max advises people to wear a watch on each wrist to monitor the movements of both hands.
“I knew this was the only time I had to try to make a difference and so I had to work hard, wisely using my time away from school in bulk. I am proud of where we are but I know to overcome the last obstacle it will take even more courage. “
Using the conceptual work and research that his father, Richard Melia, collected early in the year, Max collaborated with a product designer who was able to quickly produce a working prototype and a cosmetic prototype of the final version of the device.
The rechargeable watch features a waterproof silicone strap and a sealed pod-shaped design to allow for waterproofing, including sweat, rain and hand washing.
All profits from early sales will go to provide free watches to vulnerable people and frontline workers, such as those in nursing homes and health workers with the National Health Service (NHS).
“I think this device can really make a difference in the fight against coronavirus and therefore I am determined to do everything possible to bring it to the market,” said Max. “I really hope that the general public can see the potential and be inspired to put themselves behind the campaign to finance the next stage of development. “
VybPro is designed and manufactured in the UK and will retail for around $ 111 (£ 89.99) for a pair of bracelets. If the team reaches the funding target, it could be on people’s wrists by September 2020.
CNN’s Katie Hunt contributed to this report.