MetalMiner welcomes Spend Matters’ Sheena Moore as a guest contributor this week.
So you’re thrilled with your smartphone: Angry Birds, Bus Tracker, and all kinds of other information at your fingertips even, as we’re seeing in the sourcing world, for Supply Chain Management (the following article cites the top three uses as scanning barcodes, sending pictures of delivered goods, and accessing social media). But what happens when you want to track the bus you’re waiting for in 14-degree weather and don’t want to remove your gloves? Or, more importantly, what if you want to make all your Facebook friends jealous by posting pictures of the gnar pow you’re shredding while they’re at work?
There are several types of gloves in the market that allow you to use your iPhone. But a recent story on NPR’s All Tech Considered pointed MetalMiner in the direction of Boulder-based Agloves (Agloves — get it? silver??), a company that produces gloves made of 60% polyester, 29% nylon, 7% silver nylon, 3% Spandex, and 1% acrylic with tiny threads of silver woven in, allowing you to stay warm while staying in touch. So what does this have to do with using your smartphone on the slopes?
Most touch screen phones use capacitive technology. The screen is composed of glass acting as an insulator that is then coated in a transparent conductor, such as ITO (indium tin oxide). According to Wikipedia, “As the human body is also an electrical conductor, touching the surface of the screen results in a distortion of the screen’s electrostatic field, measurable as a change in capacitance. Different technologies may be used to determine the location of the touch. The location is then sent to the controller for processing. Unlike a resistive touch screen, one cannot use a capacitive touch screen through most types of electrically insulating material, such as gloves; one requires a special capacitive stylus, or a special-application glove with fingertips that generate static electricity.
Source: Your Electronics Open Source
Other gloves limit the materials needed to work a phone to two or three fingers. In other words, if (like me) your fingers are freezing, they can’t conduct enough electricity to work the touch screen. Agloves weaves silver throughout the entire glove, saying “This is important because it provides greater surface area for the natural bioelectricity in your hand. If the tips of your fingertips are not conductive enough due to dryness and cold, the bioelectricity from the palm of your hand flows through the super conductive glove to your fingertips to maintain your connection on their website.
For someone who shells out close to $150 for ski gloves that do not conduct electricity, I will definitely order a couple pairs of Agloves at $17.99 a pop. Though they’re not waterproof, they’re warm, and can be used as liners if it’s a truly frigid day. It’s amazing what metals technology can do to keep us warm, dry, connected — and conductive — these days.
— Sheena Moore