A pair of the portable silver air purifiers are positioned in the restaurant - one on the window sill for maximum visibility, and one at the back of the dining room. They work by sucking in the air from around them, which is purified through water treated with a nontoxic substance. The pure air is then pushed out the top of the 'R2D2'.
“It’s incredible, the air is really cool and really fresh that flows out. We could see the difference in such a small restaurant, it’s only 39 square metres. I will test the water inside the machine daily with a pipette and put it in a device that will tell me in 15 minutes if anybody that day in this area has had Covid or not.”
Laukkonen says if there is a positive result, he will contact everyone who entered the space that day and suggest they get tested. “Imagine that I can guarantee to you that I can report after every single service if there has been a person with or without Covid on that day.”
“Ora is a pioneer within our community with our technology,” explains João Monteiro Fernandes, from the innovative bio-tech company supplying the kit. “We’re working with Sasu to do a case study of performance in restaurants opening up safely, so that hopefully you can have this piece of mind for people, we can allow Sasu to provide air quality to his guests, and provide his experience and his food, which is his passion, safely. And on top of that you also have the experience of the pure air.”
Together they are exploring affordable solutions to a return to safe restaurant dining. “It’s an option for opening and operating safely, and at the same time being economically viable,” says Fernandes. Along with the bioreactor there are a number of products, including a U-monitor to check air quality, and a U-Alert protocol which allows quick detection of Covid-19 by testing the water in the bioreactor.
"We’re doing a serious collaboration. We’ll be in constant contact with them. I have this unit at work which will be connected to them so that they can also monitor the air quality inside the restaurant from afar and give us tips,” says Laukkonen.
“It’s an innovative system that allows a highly effective way of attracting contaminants. From a restaurant perspective, it’s highly effective given the number of contaminants in the air and given the concentration of people.”
“When you talk about fine dining you actually talk about an experience, and what’s the point of having a luxury experience if you don’t take care of the base, which is air quality," Fernandes says. "The luxury mindset is changing, from ownership of very expensive things, to providing experiences.
"It shows that you care more than just about the food and the normal hygiene,” adds Laukkonen. He has been hard at work spreading the word within the global restaurant community, from Kyoto to Iceland, excited that this kit might the solution to safe indoor dining. “Maybe the best thing I can do is start irritating every other restaurateur in Finland and every single night after service I will post this on my IG stories. 'Covid test, negative, Covid test negative.' Then I can also start tagging our air quality and how much better is it.”
Early customers to Ora have been curious, having first seen the bioreactors online. Laukkonen says they've been asking a lot of questions, wanting to touch the bioreactors and test the air purity. “Of course, everyone’s super-interested. It’s something super-visible. They are very relaxed about the fact that you have them."
Laukkonen is keen to convince the community that it's time to take action at a local level to ensure the safe re-opening of restaurants by taking sensible, affordable action. “Many of us are kind of waiting for our businesses to be saved by someone or something, but I don’t think that’s coming. This could be a means of motivating restaurants to act before governments do. They’re not going to give you any kind of bioreactor for safer dining. It’s up to you.”
“I feel it’s a big part of the future, to create a safe environment for people to come back to restaurants and enjoy themselves. I mean talk about assets for the future, that you can actually guarantee safety for people.”
A white paper on the proven effectiveness of capturing and neutralising Covid-19 particles and contaminants is currently pending peer review.