Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keyboards No Longer a Germ-Laden Office Tool; Seal Shield Markets Its Washable Keyboard to Healthcare Industry

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keyboards No Longer a Germ-Laden Office Tool; Seal Shield Markets Its Washable Keyboard to Healthcare Industry

Article excerpt

Byline: LIZ FLAISIG

At a recent trade show in Orlando, a Jacksonville company left an eye-catching sales pitch in the women's restroom.

"Your keyboard has 400 times more bacteria than this toilet!!!"

The message on a sticker was meant to promote Seal Shield LLC's newest product, the Silver Seal washable, dishwasher-safe, antimicrobial keyboard.

The keyboard -- the next generation of the company's medical grade washable keyboard that has a suggested retail price of $69.99 -- uses exclusive waterproof technology and is made with antimicrobial plastic that uses all natural, pure silver ions.

An antibacterial mouse that can also withstand the dishwasher or submersion in water will be ready for shipping later this spring.

The concept of washable computer accessories surfaced in 2005, when Unotron Inc., a company based in Dallas, launched products that could be run under water and cleaned with antibacterial solutions.

Seal Shield founder Bradley Whitchurch was working in the computer products industry at the time and saw the demand for a keyboard and mouse that could help prevent the spread of disease in the medical industry.

To do this, each computer accessory had to be fully submersible in water and possess antibacterial qualities.

It took Whitchurch and his partners 18 months to develop the core waterproof technology for a keyboard and a few more months to develop the antibacterial technology.

They kept initial product development costs at $500,000 by offering employees and partners equity positions in the company and per-unit royalties.

It helped that Whitchurch, 39, had business associates with expertise in engineering and warehousing who had become friends.

"These are the kind of people you meet and say, 'If I ever have a company, that's the guy,'" Whitchurch said.

Since launching its product sales a year ago in February, Seal Shield has sold more than 10,000 units with nearly twice as many sales in the first quarter of this year, Whitchurch said. …

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