Apple patents iPhone gloves

Posted by Christian Zibreg

Chicago (IL) – Using your iPhone on a cold winter day is a bit problematic, especially if you are wearing gloves. You either have to take your gloves off to dial a number, select music or look up a map - or you simply keep the device in your pocket, because the capacitive touch screen does not respond to finger input through gloves. The day before the original iPhone launched, Apple filed a patent to solve this issue with special gloves that use a conductive inner layer. Basically, this is the kind of gear Tom Cruise wore in Minority Report.

Most iPhone users are unaware of the fact that the handset's multitouch screen is very inconvenient to user under low-temperature conditions. That is not because freezing temperatures or condensation may  affect the multitouch display that cause the device to either completely ignore finger input or respond to it erratically. It is because of the gloves you are wearing.

The iPhone features capacitive touch screen technology that relies on a capacitive material that holds an electrical charge and a conductive material, which is your finger, to manipulate the charge at the point of contact. With gloves, your skin is largely insulated and cannot change the electrical charge on the iPhone's touch screen.

According to the US Patent Office database, Apple submitted a patent request entitled "High tactility glove system" the day before the original iPhone launched. The patent, confirmed yesterday, calls for a special glove with an extra layer designed to amplify the conductive characteristics of your skin to stimulate the capacitive touch screen through gloves as if it were touched with bare skin.

Credited to Apple engineers Ashwin Sunder and Steven Hotelling, the patent proposes a glove system that consists of an inner conductive layer and an outer shell. In a typical Apple twist, the company proposes "anti-sticky finish" of an inner layer for the sake of user convenience.

Additionally, Apple said the outer shell should include at least one aperture which the inner liner may extend to operate touch screen. "In some embodiments, the aperture may be at a finger tip of the outer shell," the filing states, adding that "a closing mechanism may be used to maintain the aperture closed when the user is not operating the electronic device."

Apple goes further into detail how the aperture may open. "An elastic ring may surround the aperture such that, in its non-deformed state, the aperture is substantially closed. The user may elastically deform the ring to allow the liner to pass through the outer shell."