Sunday, August 28, 2011

Touch Screens - Keeping them fingerprint free

Touch Screens - Keeping them fingerprint free

In my early thread about android dots locking the screen several possibilities were raised and, in particular, I happen to mention  "ii) using fingerprint tape on the touch-screen (so clean the screen regularly)"; that was mentioned in context with the theme of the discussion about avoiding your security access being breached by an unauthorised person.

After some highly active chats with people, nothing to precipitant of course, and not to put too fine a point upon it, the conversation (some of which was rather humorous) turned to prevention of *fingerprints, rather than cure of them. Various options were discussed, which had to be inexpensive:

- Wearing gloves. Ideas stretched (no pun intended) from Marigold Washing Up gloves to those Latex gloves. One would look pretty ridiculous, wouldn't one,  having to put on one's gloves everytime one wanted to use one's phone?

- False hand. Now, you see, this is exactly what I am talking about, people just wont be sensible :-). This led to thoughts about Kenny Everitt's character, the one with the giant hands, 'Brother Lee Love'. It was felt, after a long discussion and a few pints of larger, that hands like this would be OK in the boardroom but would be thoroughly inappropriate for use when sitting in a packed train carriage and tapping the passenger (in the next seat) on their face and body with hands this size and asking him/her to budge-up so one could use the touch screen phone. That was considered using poor ettiquette and simply bad form to do it. So let that be a lesson to you all, don't get on trains with big hands if you want to use your touch screen device.

- Cling-film. Oh yes, real classy! But it is cheap and it is disposable (but does it avoid fingerprints?). Could, though, cause a run on stock at the local supermarket due to frequent changes.

- Screen spray protection. Now it would have useful to find out more about any spray on products that prevented lipids build up on the screen, similar to this type of product Windshield Treatment

- Cover screen protection. The ones seen during research tended to show a plastic screen cover or film which might work if they do not retain fingerprint smudges or lipids residue on the cover screen of film.

- Stylus. Research reveals that there are over 15 million pages on google that refer to 'stylus'. Clearly, a bit of research refinement was necessary and I came away with these items for the purposes of the topic of this thread:

This stylus is called a 'capacitive stylus', and you can learn more about why they are used here 
 The photo is courtesy of htcaccessorystore

They can be used with resistive touch screen devices, such as HTC and so on:
Photo coutesy of engadget

From the styli research I came away with the notion that if "necessity is the mother of invention", (in fact we are told Plato actually said: "Necessity, who is the mother of invention") then styli are in need of it, apparently. I arrived at this opinion when one individual found you could make a free of charge capacitive stylus made from a "silvery-metallic looking antistatic film". OK, ok, I think I am following this. Enlightenment is just around the corner with a home made video. It is only an image, below, so follow the link to how-to-make-a-free-capacitive-stylus to watch the video. I found the author of the video waving his hands around alot and it is abit distracting when watching the video. Also, he finds it necessary to touch the screen with the hand not holding the home-made stylus, which could indicate a possible set back in avoiding fingerprints. Fair play to him, though, as it appear his find might just be a discovery of necessity of some sort, but that is just pure speculation on my behalf.

Having trawled the life and times of  these styli I happened to come across this little video gem (below) from someone using a home made version of capacitive stylus made from a "square of static bag". Two points to note. One point is that a outcome of using a capacitive stylus is that when used it cleans the screen at the same time, apparently. I had some difficulty in following that logic if the point in using a stylus is to avoid using fingers then where are the fingerprints to be revealed eg: the dots, pin, password? The second point might answer the former question as it seems the video is actually about preservation of fingerporints when a touch screen device is being examined and where the user has fingered his/her touch screen device.  I'll give at least one mark out of ten for effort for the handwritten statement of intent at the top of the paper which the author of the video helpful points out to refresh our memory of it. I'll leave all of you to judge how effective the technqiue is used by the video's author. Follow this link to preservation of fingerprints

So, luckily, having worked to bring the discussion back on topic about fingerprints, it would appear there is a world out deeply involved with 'mothers of inventions' working out how to avoid leaving fingerprints on touch screen devcies and another world working out how to preserve them. Moreover, use a stylus by all means, but you will need two if you wish to re-size the image on the touch screen. Finally, I and those raise observations take no responsibility for anyone using any of the observations above. If you have any suggestions you would like to add to this discussion on how to avoid or preserve fingerprints on touch screen devices send an email (to along with your name and company and those details will be given as a by-line along with your suggestions. 

So there you have it.

Until the next time, have a great August bank holiday.

* Lipophobicity & Oleophobic
* Indium tin oxide - one of the most widely used transparent conducting oxides
* Example of device using Oleophobic coating technology Ipad

No comments: