How to make touchscreen-sensitive gloves

Give them as a DIY gift

There’s nothing like a homemade gift to say, “Look at how much time I spent on you! I am the most thoughtful, caring person at this party.” Up the ante by creating a present that is actually helpful: Make a pair of cute gloves touchscreen-sensitive.

The capacitive screen on a smartphone uses electricity to sense your touch: When a small area of your electrically conductive skin touches the surface, it completes a circuit that tells the screen where your finger is. Insulating cloth, however, does not conduct electricity as well as skin does, which is why touchscreens ignore your glove-covered digit.

To solve this problem, you can accessorize the gloves' fingers with small spots of conductive thread or yarn (Adafruit manufactures a conductive yarn specifically for this type of project). So purchase a pair of gloves you know your gift recipient will love and follow these steps. For video tutorials, check out the versions of DIY touchscreen gloves from wearable electronics maven Becky Stern or inventor Steve Hoefer.

Note: If you dread picking up a needle, products like AnyGlove and Nanotips can also give gloves touchscreen control. You simply paint these liquids onto the gloves’ fingertips and then let them dry. Unfortunately, they tend to discolor the material beneath, and users of both products have complained that they become less effective or even peel off after a certain amount of use.

Stats:

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Cost: $7 + cost of gloves
  • Difficulty: Easy

Tools & Materials

Instructions

  1. Figure out which parts of your fingers make contact with your smartphone screen as you swipe around. You'll probably notice that you use the inside edge of your thumb and the tip of your index finger most frequently.
  2. Pull on the gloves and mark these areas on the fabric with small dots. Then turn the gloves inside out and make sure you can still tell where these spots are.
  3. Thread the needle and start placing stitches over one of these spots, leaving a long tail that will touch the finger inside the glove. This is important because you'll need extra conductive material to come in contact with the skin. The goal is to cover a small spot roughly a quarter-inch wide on the outside of the glove, leaving longer pieces of thread or yarn on the inside.
  4. Turn the gloves rightside in again, put them on, and test them out with your smartphone. If you're still having trouble swiping, try adding some more stitches, or adjusting the size of the patch on the outer surface.
  5. Repeat for the other spots until you have created conductive patches on the index fingers and thumbs of both gloves in the pair.
  6. Wrap your present nicely and get ready to bask in the gratitude of your relative, friend, or coworker!