Using Motorbiking Leather Gloves with iPhone touchscreens
A major frustration for me is when I try to use my iPhone when motorbiking. Now – I’m not saying that I often find myself texting while riding at 80mph down the M1 – I’ve only done that a couple of times – but even the simplest thing – like swiping to unlock the screen so that you can glance at a map, while waiting at traffic lights. Instead, I find myself racing to take a glove off, swipe the screen, look, then put it back on, before the lights change.
The problem is that touchscreens use the capacitance of your body. This means that you can’t just ‘stick on’ a pad or something onto your gloves in order for the screen to work with them – there has to be an electrically conductive path between the surface of your glove fingertip, and your fingers underneath. Hence some gloves available that have metal thread interwoven – particularly woolen ones – to provide that electrical contact through the glove material.
So – since I took ages to find and buy the basic leather gloves that I have, I’d rather keep them, and adapt them for use. Some people have woven metal thread through the fingertips, but I wondered if I could do it with conductive glue. Hence I bought some on eBay, and set about trying to apply it to my gloves.
And…. it seems to work! I’ve applied the glue to just the two fingertips I use the most with my iPhone – left thumb, and right forefinger – with an application of around a 0.7mm x 0.7mm area on the outside. I then pushed the needle through the fingertip, and worked it around to widen the hole, with more of the glue to try to get it to coat the insides of the hole. I let that dry, and then flipped the fingertip inside out, and painted the inside where I could see the glue spot through the hole – again, around 0.8mm x 0.8mm.
It’s not great: the glue cracks and flakes off, so we’ll see how long it lasts – and obviously it breaches the water integrity of your gloves (mine are leaky summer gloves anyway), so perhaps the thread method is preferable. I hope if it does flake off enough to stop working, I can just reapply to the outside, without having to reapply on the inside too. But somewhere, somehow, a conductive path exists, and I can swipe and pan my screen well enough to be useful.
BTW – I did all this wearing latex gloves, since apparently some types of this glue are toxic if touched.
Dried glue on thumb
Forefinger drying (it’ll smooth off later)
Update: On the second finger, I tried out the glove before turning it inside out to paint the inside… and it worked. So it seems the inside contact patch isn’t essential – as long as the hole is made and enough glue makes it through to provide some contact (and yes, I tried by painting it without the hole first, and that didn’t work).