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Nanotips Review

Nanotips Review
Make Your Gloves Touch-Sensitive
wBW Quick Look by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com

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Summary

Nanotips is claimed to be "the world's first liquid solution that can make any glove touchscreen compatible".

There's not much to it...

Spread Nanotips on a glove fingertip, let it dry overnight or blast it with a hair dryer for a couple of minutes and you're good to go.

Not without a couple of issues though...

First, it doesn't last forever, so it must be reapplied once and a while.

The 8 ml bottle is said to coat about 25-30 fingertips and at 20 bucks a bottle, it's kind of expensive.

A more significant issue arises when using Nanotips on motorcycle gloves, however.

Motorcycle gloves are thick and the fingertips are bulky.

This makes touching an swiping on a smartphone a bit of a hit-or-miss proposition, Nanotips or not.

The heavier or bulkier the glove and the smaller the screen, the harder it is to get a precise touch.

This makes sense when you think about it; perhaps someone needs to invent a tiny stylus that can be glued to a glove fingertip?

If you can get over that problem, Nanotips works. That is, it does make a leather glove touch-sensitive.

Nanotips Packaging
Touching Thoughts...

There are actually many different technologies for touchscreens and if you're really interested, I suggest reading "How it works: The technology of touch screens" (Computerworld).

Most smartphones use a type of capacitive screen (Wikipedia) called "projected capacitance" or "pro-cap". It's a long story, but basically, it goes like this:

"When a conductive object, such as a finger, comes into contact with a PCT panel, it distorts the local electrostatic field at that point. This is measurable as a change in capacitance.

If a finger bridges the gap between two of the "tracks", the charge field is further interrupted and detected by the controller. The capacitance can be changed and measured at every individual point on the grid (intersection).

Therefore, this system is able to accurately track touches.

(From "Multitouch Technologies" by Gennadi Blindmann)

All you need to know here is that leather or cloth gloves aren't conductive, so they usually will not activate a touchscreen.

Nanotips
BUY Nanotips at the webBikeWorld Amazon.com Store!
Nanotips

There are solutions for these touching problems and most of them are what we used to call a "kludge".

For example, you can sew conductive thread to the fingertip...just be careful if your gloves have a liner.

Or try some "Farkle Fingers"; large capacitive "socks" that go over a fingertip. But they're too big and too clumsy and don't always stay in place.

You could also use a capacitive stylus, but who wants to carry one around on a motorcycle?

And don't forget, some of the recent motorcycle gloves have a conductive fingertip.

Try the Rukka Imatra gloves (review) or the REV'IT! Striker gloves (review); both have that feature included. Surely more and more gloves will have something like this added in the near future.

Then there's Nanotips. Claimed to be "the world's first liquid solution that can make any glove touchscreen compatible", it was a successful Kickstarter product that actually made it through to retail.

Nanotips is available in two versions: black for leather (or neoprene, Kevlar, Gore-Tex, rubber) gloves and blue (90% translucent) for cloth gloves.

It's about as easy to use and takes as long to apply as reading this sentence. Shake, apply and dry. It disappears into the black leather, so you'll never know it's there.

Apparently, it has some kind of nano (nanotechnology) particles that give it the capacitance needed to drive a touchscreen.

It smells like -- and looks like -- black nail polish (not that I've ever used any!) and it even has a brush applicator in the bottle.

Coat the entire fingertip and either let it dry overnight or hit it with a hair dryer (or the high-end Steinel Heat Gun (review) you bought from the webBikeWorld affiliate!) and you're ready to rock that smartphone about 3 minutes later.

Applying Nanotips Coating
Touching With Nanotips

Does it work? Yes. But there's a problem. Motorcycle gloves by their nature are bulky and thick. Winter motorcycle gloves? Even more so.

Think about it: you're trying to touch a (relatively) small smartphone screen with a big-honkin'-thick pair of motorcycle gloves.

It doesn't matter if the tip of that glove is made from pure silver -- you're going to have trouble trying to zero in on that tiny little icon.

The smaller the screen and the bigger the glove, the more difficult this becomes.

As you can see in the video, it works, but it's not easy.

Basically, the design of a motorcycle glove conspires against it. Depending on your device and the size of the icons, some things will be easy to do and some not.

Gloves With and Without Nanotips
Nanotip-coated forefinger on the left; uncoated on the right.
wBW Video: Nanotips
How Long Does It Last?

An application of Nanotips doesn't last forever. There's no magic formula for how long it will last; it depends on wear, weather and usage.

But the stuff is easy enough to re-apply that a bottle should last long past your frustration level in using it with motorcycle gloves.

Conclusion

Nanotips works, but don't expect it to work as well as a naked fingertip.

BUY Nanotips at the webBikeWorld Amazon.com Store!
wBW Review: Nanotips
Manufacturer: Nanotips
List Price (2015): $19.99
Colors: Black for leather; blue for cloth.
Made In: Canada
Sizes: 8 ml bottle with applicator.
Review Date: February 2015
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From "A.P." (February 2015): "I'm just curious, would painting a tiny portion of the finger effectively give you a stylus, or does it not register enough?"

Rick's Reply: Doesn't seem to make much difference, I tried just a small dot, apparently there's a limit to how small it can go and still work.

Also, a smaller amount seems to wear out faster. It seems like more is better, that's what they recommend, although they're also interested in selling the stuff.

The problem is the large finger on a motorcycle glove vs. the small logos, there's just no getting around that as the main problem.


From "G.B." (February 2015): "It can probably work as a solution for smartphone compatible motorcycle gloves losing their magic over time.

You see, motorcycle gloves that are designed to enable smartphone use achieve this by sewing a special capacitive layer on the tips of the thumb and fore finger.

Usually these kinds of gloves also have a stretching material on said fingers to reduce bulk.

However as the layer wears out or becomes damaged by enough exposure to water (as in a wash or heavy rain, speaking from personal experience), the capacitance disappears completely.

So maybe the Nanotips can be applied at those small layers to restore capacitance.


From "M.S." (February 2015): "Just a tip (pun intended). Put a smidgeon of Shoe Goo on the tip of your glove, let dry, and then apply the Nanotips liquid."

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