ICS Magazine

Sharp Discovers Germ-Killing Technology

September 16, 2002
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Sharp Corp said on Thursday it has found that its technology for eliminating molds and odors can also kill harmful viruses such as flu and that it would seek to boost sales of home appliances that incorporate it.

Sharp said tests had shown its air purification technology can inactivate airborne viruses such as influenza and Coxsackie, known for causing summer colds, preventing them from spreading in homes and offices.

Shigeo Misaka, a Sharp executive vice president, said the technology represents part of the company's strategy of focusing on environmentally friendly products.

"Our focus has been shifting to green goods from white goods," Misaka told a news conference. "What we aim for is clean, safe and environmentally friendly products rather than convenient, easy and speedy products."

Japanese consumer electronics makers have been racking their brains to offer high-end products to compete in Japan's matured market for big-ticket items such as washing machines and televisions.

Sharp introduced this technology in 2000 as a way to purify air quality and used it in such appliances as air cleaners, air conditioners, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and heaters.

Sales of these products have reached about $509 million, but Misaka said now that the technology has proved more effective, Sharp aims to increase that to $848 million by fiscal 2004/05 by targeting new customers such as hospitals and schools.

The technology uses positive and negative ions, which destroy the surface proteins of viruses at the molecular level. Negative ions, which are oxygen atoms usually generated in natural environments such as forests and waterfalls, have created a buzz in the home appliance market with health-conscious Japanese consumers snapping up a variety of products featuring negative ion generators.