While invisible to the naked eye, germs are literally everywhere. From gas pumps and elevator buttons to vending machines and doorknobs, we encounter countless bacteria and viruses on a daily basis. Granted, some of these germs are harmless and pose no real risk to our health, but others are responsible for illnesses such as the cold, flu and food poisoning.
Not surprisingly, smartphones contain one of the greatest concentrations of germs. Due to their touch-controlled interface, smartphones can pack up to 25,127 germs per square inch. And whenever you touch the display, you are adding more germs to it while simultaneously attracting some of those germs to your own body.
There’s hope on the horizon, however, as a team of researchers from the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm are working on a new solution to protect against the transmission of germs on touchscreen devices. First and foremost, it’s important to note that touchscreen devices are more resistant to germs than non-touchscreen devices. A smartphone with a physical QWERTY keypad, for instance, will likely accumulate more germs under the cracks and crevices of the keys. And with the help of researchers from the Karolinska Institute, touchscreen devices may soon be even more resistant to germs.
So, how exactly do researchers plan to stop the transmission of germs on touchscreen devices? As first reported by Tech Radar, the team of researchers has been working on a new type of plastic to inhibit bacteria from multiplying. Normally, bacteria rapidly reproduce on touchscreen surfaces, causing their numbers to multiply. Researchers, however, believe that applying certain compounds found in plastic to a touchscreen interface could prevent germs from reproducing by obstructing their ability to deposit electrons.
“They have nowhere to deposit their own electrons which they need to do in order to respire,” explained the study’s lead author and researcher.
Until this process has been perfrected, though, there are other steps you can take to reduce the transmission of germs when using a smartphone or other touchscreen device. First and foremost, try to get into the habit of washing your hands with warm water and soap before and after using a touchscreen device. This is the single most effective method for preventing the transmission of germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depending on the type of touchscreen device you own, you may also be able to clean the surface with a gentle anti-bacterial wipe.