Have you ever tried using a touchscreen device while wearing gloves, only to discover that it won’t register your touch commands? If so, you aren’t alone. Many people are surprised to learn that touchscreen devices can’t register touch commands performed with a gloved finger. Even if a touchscreen device registers touch commands performed with a bare finger, it may fail to register those performed with a gloved finger. So, why can’t you wear gloves when using your touchscreen device?

Gloves Restrict the Flow of Electricity

Wearing gloves restricts the flows of electricity from the touchscreen device to your body. Capacitive touchscreen devices — the most common type, accounting for over 90% of all touchscreens — work by measuring capacitance. They emit a uniform electrostatic charge across the surface of the display interface. When you touch the display surface with a bare finger, your finger will absorb some of this electrostatic charge. The capacitive touchscreen device will then detect this change in capacitance as a touchscreen command.

If you wear gloves, however, your finger won’t be able to absorb the capacitive touchscreen device’s electrostatic charge. Therefore, the device won’t register your command. You must use a bare finger for the capacitive touchscreen device to perform touch commands, though there are a few exceptions.

Capacitive Gloves: An Effective Solution

You typically can’t wear gloves when using a capacitive touchscreen device, but there is an exception: capacitive gloves. Capacitive gloves live up to their namesake by featuring an electrically conductive construction. The fingertips are made of a conductive material, such as copper or aluminum, that can absorb the electrostatic charge produced by capacitive touchscreen devices.

Projected Capacitance Touchscreen Devices

Projected capacitance is a relatively new type of touchscreen technology. Unlike surface capacitance touchscreen technology, it supports the use of a gloved finger, assuming the gloves are thin. You can generally perform touch commands on a projected capacitance touchscreen device while wearing thin gloves, such as surgical gloves. The downside is that projected capacitance touchscreen devices tend to cost more than their surface capacitance counterparts.

Consider a Resistive Touchscreen Device

Another solution is to choose a resistive touchscreen device instead of a capacitive touchscreen device. Resistive touchscreen devices work in a completely different manner. Rather than identifying touch commands by measuring capacitance, they identify touch commands based on pressure. As a result, they register all types of touch commands, including those performed with a gloved finger, a bare finger or a stylus.