The Cleaning Industry Gets a Boost from AI and AR

A hygienically clean environment is what everyone wants, which is why cleaning services are an important and yet often underestimated service in our society. It ensures wellbeing, health, and safety in various areas such as hospitals, hotels, restaurants, offices, schools, etc. However, cleaning is also a complex and demanding service, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent and defend against future pandemics.

The cleaning industry was already a thriving industry, but the Covid-19 pandemic has brought this industry into sharp focus even more. Now more than ever, companies and government entities worldwide need to ensure their premises are regularly and thoroughly cleaned to prevent the spread of disease. However, the cleaning industry faces many difficulties in meeting these demands, such as labor shortages, lack of expertise, high personal turnover rates, low productivity, quality issues, environmental impact, and customer satisfaction. These challenges require innovative solutions to meet today's demands and minor improvements are not enough.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) are two emerging world-changing technologies that, when combined, have the potential to improve the cleaning industry in ways never before possible.

AI can help optimise cleaning processes and make them more efficient. By using sensors, data analytics and machine learning, cleaning robots or autonomous cleaning vehicles can be developed that can clean rooms more efficiently than conventional methods. AI can analyse large amounts of data from cleaning processes to identify patterns and make predictions about soiling patterns, cleaning needs and maintenance intervals. This enables better planning and resource allocation.

AI can use image processing techniques to monitor cleaning quality. Cameras can be used to scan surfaces for soiling and ensure that no areas are missed. In large buildings or facilities, AI can help monitor and schedule cleaners. Schedules can be optimised to ensure cleaning jobs are done efficiently.

AI can adapt to different environments and situations. For example, it can select different cleaning methods based on the level of soiling, room sise, or type of surface.

AI-driven systems can detect deviations from normal cleaning patterns that indicate problems or maintenance needs. This enables proactive maintenance to minimise downtime.

By using resources such as water and cleaning agents more efficiently, AI systems can help reduce the cleaning industry's environmental footprint.

AI can help reduce cleaning time by working faster and more accurately than traditional manual methods. In certain cases, such as cleaning dangerous or hard-to-reach places, AI-controlled robots can be used to protect human cleaners from potential risks. The integration of AI into the cleaning industry encourages innovation and the development of new technologies that drive the industry forward.

AR is the technology that blends digital information or images into the real world via devices such as smartphones, tablets or AR glasses. For example, AR can be used to create interactive education and training programs for cleaners. Through AR glasses or mobile devices, virtual training content can be superimposed over real work environments.

New employees can be trained more efficiently by gaining hands-on experience in a simulated environment. AR can overlay visual guidance and work instructions over real-world scenarios in real time. This can improve the accuracy and efficiency of cleaning processes, as employees know exactly which steps to perform and in what order.

AR can be used to detect defects or soiling that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Cameras can capture images of surfaces, and AR software can highlight irregularities or provide instructions on how to fix problems.

Cleaning companies often use a variety of cleaning products and tools. AR can be used to track and organise inventory. Employees can access information about the location of cleaning supplies or tools in real time. AR can enable experts to provide support remotely by using AR glasses or mobile devices to see the point of view of employees working on site and give them instructions. This can be helpful in complex or unexpected situations.

In the cleaning industry, AR can also be used for customer communication. Companies can show their customers which areas have been cleaned, before and after the cleaning is done, by using AR visualisations. By using AR, cleaning processes can be optimised and accelerated. Employees can receive real-time visual cues, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.

AR can help reduce human error during training, as visual instructions and demonstrations are easier to understand and implement.

AR can also be used to alert employees to potential hasards or safety guidelines. This helps improve workplace safety.

Overall, augmented reality in the cleaning industry can help improve employee training, streamline processes, strengthen quality assurance, and facilitate communication between different parties. The technology can help make the cleaning industry more efficient, accurate and safe.

One pioneer using AI and AR and developing an innovative solution for the cleaning industry is AR-Check, a German AI and AR technology startup that specialises in research and development in the field of digitalisation and automation in the cleaning industry. AR-Check is developing an intelligent system to automate cleaning services, make cleaning possible for everyone, and improve quality.

Their system consists of several mobile apps, with corresponding functions for each user. Through a cloud-based platform, which also handles some of the data processing and storage, cleaners, cleaning companies, and customers are connected to each other to coordinate operations in real-time as needed. AR-Check uses AR to guide cleaners through each step of the process. It shows them where to start, what to do, how to do it, and when to finish.

It uses AI, especially to recognise surfaces and objects, and machine learning to constantly optimise processes and constantly improve cleaning. The app gives cleaners real-time feedback on their performance and notifies them when they omit surfaces, miss contaminants or make other mistakes. The app also allows cleaners to report problems or incidents they encounter during the cleaning process.

With their apps, managers or customers receive detailed information about the cleaning process. The system also generates reports on quality results, efficiency, resource and material consumption, customer satisfaction and other important information. The app allows all involved to track progress, identify problems, evaluate performance, and optimise operations. In addition, the apps enable cleaning companies, customers, and cleaners to communicate with each other. The cloud platform connects the various users via a secure network and processes and stores large amounts of data collected by the devices.    

According to the cleaning and software experts at AR-Check, AR and AI combined will enable features that will revolutionise the cleaning industry in a groundbreaking way by digitally organising and controlling all organisational tasks, improving quality, and providing transparency and cost savings.

In addition, the system can empower people with a lack of expertise and language or cognitive limitations to clean professionally, improve their skills and efficiency.

AR-Check can help users optimise their resources and processes by providing them with accurate data and recommended actions. AR-Check can also ensure compliance with hygiene and safety standards by providing reliable verification, timely notification, and easy communication. Considering today's cleanliness and hygiene issues, such an innovative solution is helpful in various industries where high-quality cleaning is essential for preventing infections and increasing customer satisfaction.

In hospitals, it can help reduce hospital-acquired infections, which are a leading cause of patient morbidity and mortality. Hospital germs are infections caused by various microorganisms, such as bacteria or viruses, that patients can contract during their hospital stay. Hospital germs can affect any part of the body or any system, but some of the most common types are bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections (UTI), surgical site infections (SSI), and pneumonia. Hospital-acquired germs can have serious consequences for patients, including prolonged hospital stays, increased medical costs, complications, disability, or death.

Poor cleaning also has image-damaging effects on hospitals, with the consequences of legal liability and high compensation claims. AR and AI-based solutions can help reduce infectious diseases by enabling more effective cleaning and disinfection in hospitals. AR-Check even has a patent that also monitors the quality of cleaning and disinfection by detecting residues of dirt or germs on the surfaces of objects that are not visible to the eye. It can give cleaners real-time feedback on their performance and alert them if they miss any spots or make mistakes. With such a system recording cleaning progress, cleaning and disinfection processes can be logged for managers or customers to access. This can ensure that all surfaces have actually been cleaned.

If a room is dirty or messy, it also affects the mood of patients. Thanks to AR and AI, AR-Check can help improve patient mood by creating a clean and comfortable environment for recovery.

With so many rooms to keep clean, targeted guidelines and real-time support will increase efficiency. When more patients are in clean rooms, it positively impacts patient recovery time. Thus, AR-Check can help improve patient satisfaction by providing them with a more pleasant and hygienically clean hospital stay.

In the hotel and tourism industry, such a system can help increase guest loyalty by ensuring a clean and pleasant stay. AR-Check can ensure that hotels are clean and hygienic for guests and staff. Everyone is much more likely to return and report positively if rooms feel clean and well-maintained. Cleanliness goes a long way toward improving a hotel's reputation.

Hotels can share hygiene certificates, quality ratings, customer reviews on their website and booking platforms. Latest technologies help to retain and recommend guests by providing them with a memorable and enjoyable hotel stay.

However, AR-Check can also be used in other areas where cleanliness is desired, such as restaurants, office buildings, schools, kindergartens, airports and many more. AR-Check can help improve the quality and efficiency of cleaning in any area.

According to the founders and developers of AR-Check, AR and AI are the technologies that will revolutionise the entire cleaning industry. It should be no surprise then that the financial market has also recognised the potential of this growing industry. Black Rock, Bill Gates, and Vanguard, for example, are increasingly investing heavily in companies that focus on cleaning and hygiene, particularly ECOLAB, which specialises in the development and sale of cleaning solutions. ECOLAB has in turn expressed its interest in collaborating with AR-Check, reaffirming the potential of AR and AI in the cleaning sector.