Most touchscreens in electronic devices employ resistive screen technology that combines multiple layers of electrically charged film. These layers respond to pressure from a stylus, a finger or anything capable of pressing the soft membranes together, including gloved fingers.
Newer screens such as those used on the iPhone, Droid, and some GPS units are capacitive in design and do not respond to pressure. The slightest touch of a bare finger to a hard glass screen causes a localized voltage drop; sensors in the four corners of the screen then calculate its exact position. Gloves complicate this procedure since they shield the capacitive quality of human skin.
Andy Goldfine at Riderwearhouse has produced an upgraded version of its popular Elkskin Ropers that cures this. A mesh of special thread in the fingertips allows the capacitive connection between bare skin and the phone screen.
I have been using the new gloves in conjunction with my Droid2 phone, Zumo 550 GPS and Scala Rider G4 headset. As an aside, pairing the various Bluetooth functions was easy enough. However, my Droid2, despite repeatedly asking me for voice commands when prompted by a finger touch, ignored my repeated efforts to use them. A web search and a quick phone call to Garmin revealed presently unresolved connectivity issues for the Droid2, making voice commands unreliable. If voice commands are a necessity, explore the available options for your particular hardware.
But we’re here to test the gloves. All touchscreen commands to the phone performed perfectly. I was able to summon phone-based address data, answer incoming calls, and call up functions manually. And that’s the point of the gloves, isn’t it?
Observing a small phone screen, in the sun, while riding a motorcycle is not the safest endeavor for riders. I’m not sure how many functions I would actually use while under way, but being able to take or return a call without removing my gloves and/or helmet was nice. I could also initiate a call before riding off and finish it while underway. Scroll, dial, pinch-zoom, browse…they all work fine when safe to do so.
The Touch-Screen Elkskin Ropers are instantly comfortable. They add a sensitive touch to clutching and braking and simply get better with use, and you gotta love the visor squeegee sewn into the left thumb. Hundreds of California Highway Patrol motor officers wear Elkskin Ropers. You wouldn’t question them, would you?
The gloves are available in full and half sizes so be sure they fit; fingertips need to touch the woven threads. These touchscreen gloves would be nice for winter use in cars as well.
By the way, some smartphones can be power hungry and will benefit greatly from on-board power. 3BRPowersports.com sells a nifty waterproof USB socket harness that provides the needed 5-volt DC power required by current USB technology. Install one and you’ll be able to recharge phones, MP3 players or cameras on the fly.
For more information: Visit www.aerostich.com or call (800) 222-1994