Touchscreen germ resistant technology is a burgeoning field. If you've ever borrowed someone's smartphone and left a disgusting, greasy imprint of your face on their screen, then better touchscreen germ resistant tech couldn't come quicker.
There are three main problems that touchscreen germ resistant tech could fix. 1) The aforementioned grease smears you leave on the smartphone's surface can be embarrassing 2) the possible spread of harmful bacteria 3) the smudges and substances that collect on your device's screen stops you from fully enjoying your crystal clear display.
"Any dirt is a barrier between user experience and a display," Steve Block, an electronics industry scientist at Dow Corning, which makes coatings for touch screens, told 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, "Prof Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, told the BBC. 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 MRSA, E.coli and C. difficile, and many other germs in a small-scale study of screens in hospitals and supermarkets.
Though chances of getting ill are slim, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Thankfully, there are some upcoming updates to touchscreen germ resistant technology.
First, screen makers are continually perfecting the materials and coatings that make devices easier to keep clean.
[The coatings] are made of very specialized molecules that are designed for these types of applications," Block said. These silicone coatings are now becoming the norm and help make touchscreen germ resistant.
Second, 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. Once applied, the coating dries into millions of tiny wrinkles that help conceal smudges to help screen images stay clear, the BBC reported.
Third, the fourth generation Gorilla Glass, which is used on many touchscreen devices, including the iPhone, will feature an antibacterial coating that kills bugs, per the BBC. The touchscreen germ resistant coating is likely to start being used within the next couple of years.
Last, scientists at Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences developed a touchscreen germ resistant coating after being inspired by 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 scientist copied this surface by apply an ultra-thin layer of lubricant, which is repellant to 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 to be harder to smudge and offer a better user experience.
Would you like better touchscreen germ resistant technology? Let us know in the comments.