At this point in human history, we spend a lot of time with our hands on screens, and all indications point toward us continuing to do so. But screens come with their share of problems. First, we were breaking them left and right, so Gorilla Glass stepped up and made screens that can withstand the gross negligence with which most of us treat our electronics. And now, we face a new problem: our screens are covered in germs from our grubby fingers.
At CES, Corning, the company responsible for Gorilla Glass, unveiled a new touchscreen that actively battles bacteria and fungi. Corning claims the touchscreens will fight this battle for the entire lifespan of whatever device it’s attached to, so you never have to worry about your screen giving you the flu again. The glass fights algae, mildew, fungi, and bacteria.
The technology is pretty simple. For at least a century, we've used ionic silver to battle germs. It’s been used to dress wounds in both battle and surgery, and folks buy it today for ingestion. So Corning did the obvious: it incorporated ionic silver into the touchscreen, where it can set up its antibacterial artillery.
There’s some debate about whether these germs can actually get you sick. It’s no secret that a screen can hold thousands of bacteria, but Professor Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, said, "touchscreens are a source of a wide range of microbes, but not much of an issue if you do not share it among other people - since, if you are the only one using it, it's only your germs."
This might very well be true, but we’re living in a world that increasingly uses public kiosks to perform daily tasks, such as ordering a burrito or checking in for a flight. Thousands of people touch those kiosks daily, and I’d be willing to bet they aren't regularly cleaned. Thus, they’re breeding grounds for other people’s bacteria, making them the perfect place for the new Gorilla Glass to make a difference.