How to

16 November 2016

Have a Tech-Friendly Winter with Touchscreen-Enabled Gloves

Img source: The Grommet
Thanks to a growing dependence on technology, there are quite a few of us who can’t be bothered to put away our phones just because of a spot of nippy weather or winds gnawing at our fingers. We’d rather numbly plod through a text than be warm. However, the garment industry hasn’t figured out a universally-appealing way to solve this problem. Touchscreen gloves are nothing new; but those funny, white-tipped gloves have never truly come into fashion. Stylistically, they resemble a pair of pound store gloves bought on a whim but never truly incorporated into a wardrobe. The cheaply-made version of the touchscreen glove flooded discount stores years ago. Since then nicer variations have made their way into the market, produced from quality material like sheepskin and leather. As technology has advanced, capacitive winter gloves have been developed to suit societal needs. Garments made to enable touchscreen operation started with the idea of adding touchscreen capabilities to an item for purchase.

Nanotips, a Vancouver-based company, have approached the problem with fresh eyes, working to create a pioneer substance that adds touchscreen capability upon application. Also the name of the product, Nanotips is an applicable substance that creates a conductive chain between the touchscreen device and your hand. There are two types of solution, Nanotips Blue for use on cashmere, cotton, wool, knit, and fleece, and Nanotips Black for leather, rubber, Kevlar, neoprene, and Gortex.

This revolutionary invention gives purchasers the option to keep their favourite gloves and mittens while granting new functionality. Nanotips Blue promises to appear mostly transparent, boasting 90% transparency once applied to material especially on darker coloured fabrics. A $15 bottle has over 15 applications, costing about $1 per application. As each application lasts for up to 30 days, one bottle will outlast the winter. If you’re in doubt, just consider how many fingers you use to operate a smartphone. Overall, it’s great product for those who run or bike in the winter, or for anyone who wants to use their device in cold weather.

Nanotips Black, formulated as a counterpart to Nanotips Blue, is meant for people who engage in rigorous activities or must work outdoors for extended periods of time. Black does not promise to be transparent, rather it promises to work on thick, rough surfaces, drying to a matte black. Developed to withstand extreme conditions, the substance is made up of “evenly dispersed ultra-fine conductive nanoparticles, each nanoparticle is carefully prepared so to interlink with one another; this helps to form a conductive grid-like film on the surface of the material.” At first glance, Nanotips Black seems well-suited to military use.  According to the website, Black is meant for industry-specific application: motorcycle, winter sports (snowboarding/skiing), construction, expedition, and law enforcement.

Innovation Yet Again

Nanotips is capitalising on another gap in the market, drawing inspiration from fingerprint-secured phones. Cue the next project: fingerprint gloves. Currently, Nanotips is running a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to create a product that allows fingerprint-unlocking of a smartphone without removing your gloves. Taps is a synthetic, fingerprint-shaped sticker made of military-grade polyurethane. It sticks to the tip of the glove with an adhesive conductive material suited to any surface, appearing as a sleek, black tip. Unlike the Nanotips substance, Taps can be used on any material and is suited to all functions thanks to its durable nature.

In order to use, the Taps fingerprint must be registered within your phone’s security settings as an approved fingerprint. No need to worry about others with Taps stickers unlocking your device, as each sticker uses nanoparticle technology to create individual, unique artificial prints. Essentially, the stickers create a new biometric password to enable touch ID verification.

For those of you driven enough to donate to the Kickstarter, product delivery is expected by the end of the year if it reaches its funding goal (it exceeded that by nearly $6,000 at the time of writing).  Donate a minimum of $11 CAD to receive a pack of Taps. 

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).