This month, Paramount Miami Worldcenter in Miami announced it is using the Xenex LightStrike Robot to disinfect rooms and common areas in the 60-story luxury condo tower. Claiming to be the first residential building in the country to employ such technology, the building’s owner said having a high-tech and efficient sanitizing system has become a top priority for residents.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created demand for a new disease-conscious lifestyle,” Daniel Kodsi, the CEO and developer of Paramount Miami Worldcenter said in a press statement. “Buyers and residents consider disinfecting technologies essential and we are the first to offer these features.”
The robot, which was developed by Xenex out of Texas, uses high-energy UV rays to break down any bacteria or viruses on a given surface. Mark Stibich, an epidemiologist who co-founded Xenex and is a fellow at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said that interest in its product has grown exponentially after COVID-19 broke out in the United States at the beginning of 2020.
“[The pandemic] has brought a lot of attention on infection prevention,” Stibich told Inman. “There’s obviously a big investment right now in COVID prevention but I’m hoping this continues and we just create a greater infrastructure around infection control, not just in the hospitals but in residential, commercial and workplace settings everywhere.”
Hotels are some of the enterprises that are increasingly investing in sanitization robots – the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and The Beverly Hilton in California both sanitize rooms and common areas using Xenex robots. Since high concentrations of UV light can damage human tissue, no one can be in the room while the robots operate over a period of several minutes; staff are trained to activate the robot, step out and then turn it off when it has finished working.
At a cost of around $125,000 for each robot, the service remains something that is used primarily by luxury buildings or in large commercial environments — apartments at the Paramount Miami Worldcenter start at $690,000. (Xenex also rents its robots for one-time sanitization services for around $1,000.) Paramount Miami Worldcenter is part of a pilot program in which it introduces the robot technology to its building.
Stibich said that, as the product becomes more widespread, they’ll be able to secure more financing in order to make it available to more people.
“We’re also working hard to make it affordable and make sure we can get into nursing homes and long-term care,” Stibich said. “We don’t perceive it as a luxury-only product although they are going to be some of the early adopters.”
According to Xenex, the use of robots can reduce infection rates for a disease like COVID-19 from 50 percent to 100 percent. And while much of the technology still needs to be worked out for different environments, sanitization robots could begin appearing in more residential settings in the near future. The Xenex team is also hoping that the experience from COVID-19 can promote vigilance in preventing outbreaks of other viruses and diseases.
“We live in a microbial world and there are always microbes around,” Stibich said. “Some of them are beneficial and some of them aren’t so there’s a level of being a little bit more tactical and strategic.”
Editor’s note: An earlier story subhead stated that Paramount Miami Worldcenter had invested in the Xenex technology. In actuality, it is part of a pilot program testing the Xenex LightStrike Robot.