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How to make your gloves touchscreen capable

Amber Bouman | Jan. 30, 2014
Since winter has officially gone from "Awwww, snow!" to "Dear Lord, will I ever be warm again?" it's time to break out every little trick you have to keep yourself warm: thermal everything everywhere, hot tea, hot coffee, hot chocolate, and never taking your gloves off.

Since winter has officially gone from "Awwww, snow!" to "Dear Lord, will I ever be warm again?" it's time to break out every little trick you have to keep yourself warm: thermal everything everywhere, hot tea, hot coffee, hot chocolate, and never taking your gloves off.

That's where we come in. You're probably taking your gloves off every five minutes to check a transit schedule or to respond to a text message — unless you're rocking some stellar touchscreen gloves.

You can, of course, buy touchscreen-capable gloves (they come in a wide variety of colors and styles), but you can also turn almost any plain pair of gloves that you have lying around into a touchscreen-capable pair. The bonus of doing it yourself? A couple of the following techniques can make several pairs of gloves touchscreen friendly, so for the cost of the materials you can trick out multiple sets. Here are three methods we tested out.

Thermal paste
Also known as CPU compound, thermal compound, thermal grease, or CPU paste, thermal paste has conductive properties. As it's commonly used in the building of computers, it's pretty easy to find in electronics stores or online for about $4 a tube.

The how-to portion of this glove-treatment method is simple: Smear thermal paste into the fingers of the gloves, work it into the fabric pretty well, and allow it to dry. The conductive properties of the paste should then, in theory, allow your fingers to communicate with your touchscreen phone or tablet.

In reality, however, thermal paste is thick, sticky, and difficult to work with. It will get everywhere — all over your hands, possibly on your clothes, and almost certainly on portions of the glove you don't intend for it to be. You'll have to be exceptionally careful during the application phase.

Another thing to consider: Thermal paste doesn't really set, so it will never be entirely dry. This means every time you touch your phone, or tablet, or wallet, or coffee cup, or coat, you're going to get thermal paste everywhere. That drawback is pretty much a deal breaker for me — a solution that creates its own problems is no solution.

Plus, this method doesn't really work. Of the dozens upon dozens of times I tried to unlock my phone with my gloves covered in thermal paste, it worked perhaps twice. That's not worth smearing thermal paste over my entire life.

Conductive thread
But wait, there has to be a better way! And there is: conductive thread.

The most popular method of making touchscreen gloves, conductive thread, aka conductive bobbin, doesn't create a mess, won't rub off, and requires only the most basic ability with a needle and thread.

 

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