An accessory for using touch screens without removing gloves
par Elsa Sidawy | 11.16.11
Anyone who has walked the streets of Amsterdam in winter knows that wearing gloves is not a fashion statement. Chi Dang, an Australian-born designer finishing his studies in Europe, felt this first hand. The idea for the Glove Tip came to him when while pedaling between the canals of Amsterdam his gloved hands prevented him from picking up his smartphone, resulting in a missed call from a major client. “Touch screens work with the static flux of the skin,” which is automatically blocked by gloves, says Gerard Levy Bensoussan, the second partner of Chi & Jo, the company created to market the Glove Tip.
Two pieces of polycarbonate
With the increasing presence of touch screens in our daily lives, a solution for gloved fingers is becoming more pressing. This Frenchman and Australian have joined up to invent a system that mimics human skin and allows the user to control a touch screen, while keeping his or her hands warm inside a pair of mittens. The idea? “A small chip that conducts static flow through the material of the glove.” Specifically, the Tip Glove is a simple piece of polycarbonate a few millimeters in diameter, consisting of two parts: a plastic “female” part “loaded with carbon particles that create the conductivity,” and which slips inside the glove to be in contact with the finger; and a second plastic “male” part, which comes in contact with the touch screen, and also incorporates a small stainless steel tip. This metal part “will pierce through the glove, clipping into the interior part, and recreate the static flow between the hand and the surface of the screen.” All that remains after use is a nearly invisible hole on the finger of the glove. The product is designed to glide smoothly over the surface of all types of touch screens, from mp3s to tablets. This small, seemingly innocuous appendix is not a revolutionary technology, but its commercial potential has prompted its founders to secure a patent covering 150 countries in September 2009.
The only competitors? Touch gloves, like Etip, sold by outdoor sports brand North Face, but geared towards winter sports. The only problem is “they are much more expensive than our product and the contact area is larger, which makes their use less accurate,” notes Gerard Levy Bensoussan. Today, Glove Tip chips are compatible with gloves in rather fine silk, wool or and leather “but not with sports gloves that are much thicker.” The new company intends to address this gap by launching a new version of its product in February or March 2012, in high winter sports season.
Chi & Jo proudly manufactures its product in France to reduce its carbon footprint and increase the sustainability of its invention: “Our product saves material because people do not have to buy touch gloves for different uses but can use one chip on different pairs of gloves. ”
Priced at 14.90 euros, “several thousand” Glove Tips have been sold since October 1st in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. The nomination of Chi & Jo for the Great Innovation Award of the city of Paris should give them an extra boost.
Chi & Jo in brief
Online sales: Glove Tip, Pixmania, Colette, Darty, Virgin Megastore, Cdiscount, Rue du Commerce.
Sales target: 90,000 Sales (2012)
Funding: Oseo (product prototyping, 7,000 euros), an unsecured loan of 40,000 euros from Scientipôle.
Partnership: French Federation of Gloves
To learn more about the innovation presented in this article, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Chi & Jo
Translated by Genny Cortinovis