Have you ever borrowed your friends phone? to check your email for instance or maybe they have showed you a picture on their handset and you have noticed the greasy film on the screen left there by your friends seemingly normal and clean face? which then made you feel quite queasy. If you have, then you will be well aware that touchscreen germ resistant technology is needed and therefore must be an escalating field!
Steve Block, an electronics industry scientist at Dow Corning, which makes coatings for touch screens, told the BBC “Any dirt is a barrier between user experience and a display…It is to be noted that screen makers are continually perfecting the materials and coatings that make devices easier to keep clean. These coatings are made of very specialized molecules that are designed for these types of applications,” These silicone coatings are now becoming standard and will help make touchscreens germ resistant.
Prof Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, informed the BBC: “Touchscreens are a source of a wide range of microbes, but not much of an issue if you do not share it among other people since, if you are the only one using it, it’s only your germs,. However, it could become an issue with touchscreens on supermarket self-checkouts and devices that are shared by a family or group of teens…We have traced the spread of MRSA skin infection among teenagers that shared a cell phone,” said Prof Gerba, who uncovered E.coli, MRSA and C. difficile, and other germs in a small-scale study of screens in hospitals and supermarkets.
Though chances of you getting ill are remote, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. Thankfully, there are some upcoming advances in touchscreen germ resistant technology. For instance a Japanese materials company, Toray, has developed a coating that, it claims, repels up to 50 percent more oil and other residues found on fingers and once applied, the coating dries into millions of tiny wrinkles that help conceal smudges to help screen images stay clear. Interestingly the fourth generation Gorilla Glass, which is used on many touchscreen devices, including Apple’s flagship device, the iPhone, will feature an antibacterial coating that kills bugs. The touchscreen germ resistant coating is likely to start being used within the next few years.
Also those clever minds at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have also developed a touchscreen germ resistant coating after taking their inspiration from a carnivorous plant. They discovered that the walls of this plant is slippery because of tiny bumps that trap water. Insects find it hard to walk on this surface because it repels the oils on their feet. The Harvard scientists copied this surface by apply an ultra-thin layer of lubricant, which repels bodily substances. The touchscreen germ resistant technology is still in the lab stage but is yet another example that touchscreens in the future are going more difficult to smudge and subsequently offer a better user experience.
Maybe, in the not so distant future, we can borrow our friends handset and not feel grossed out by the oily film that they left behind on the screen?