Your Next Smartphone May Have a Bacteria-Killing Screen

Your Next Smartphone May Have a Bacteria-Killing Screen

Your smartphone or tablet may have more germs than a toilet seat.

How Much Bacteria Is On Your Smartphone?

Last year, UK consumer group Which? tested 30 smartphones and tablets for bacteria, and the results may leave you feeling a little queasy.

Before we get into the results, better to provide a bit of context as talk of swabs and units may not mean much to you. The UK Health Protection Agency classes any count between 20 and 10,000 units of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (more affectionately known as “Golden Staph”) as a potential health risk. As well as causing Staph Infections, this bacteria is also known to cause a range of other illnesses from minor skin infections to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia or meningitis.

The study was conducted by swabbing the screens of 30 tablets and 30 smartphones, with the results then sent to a lab for analysis. One tablet showed a swab count of 600 units per swab of Staphylococcus aureus. The risk is significantly less from a typical toilet seat, which had a count of less than 20 units, a cause for concern for other mobile devices out there that could be harbouring a dangerous level of bacteria. The study also found enterobacteria on some of the devices, which can include strains of infections such as E.coli and Salmonella. Eight out of the 30 tablets and seven of the 30 smartphones tested showed more than 1,000 units (high-risk levels) of enterobacteria per swab.

It makes sense that there would be some sort of bacteria on our mobile devices, considering the fact that they go pretty much everywhere with us. They live in pockets and handbags, are handled by greasy, food covered hands and even used in the bathroom. It’s simply a recipe for a bacteria-ridden screen. However, while we can’t completely avoid bacteria, even simply halting the growth of bacteria before they reach dangerous levels is a welcomed development.

The Future Of Mobile Device Hygiene

Before you dunk your smartphone or tablet into a vat of hospital grade disinfectant, or furiously start wiping it with methylated spirits, it is important to be aware of the effect cleaning agents can have on the screen. It is advised that users do not use any products containing ammonia or alcohol as these chemicals can eat away at the special coating found on most touchscreens. There are a few things you can do to keep your mobile device clean without damaging the touchscreen, which we explain here.

However, while exercising a bit of mobile device hygiene is great, Corning believes the screens on our mobile devices should stop bacteria in its tracks from the get go.

Corning’s Gorilla Glass screens are already being used in many mobile devices such as the Samsung Galaxy range and the Nokia Lumia range, which boasts damage and scratch resistant technology. Seeing more potential for the humble touchscreen, Corning has taken their Gorilla Glass technology to the next level by also giving it anti-microbial properties.

Corning announced its new Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass, a world first, at the Consumer Electronics Show this year in Las Vegas.

The glass is formulated with ionic silver, an antibacterial agent that has been widely used in hospitals to treat wounds. The technology works by infusing ions of silver directly into the chemically- strengthened glass, which can inhibit the growth of algae, bacteria, fungi, mildew and mold. According to CNet, the glass might be able to repel up to 99.9% of bacteria, and unlike antibacterial wipes and sprays which wear off quickly, the built in antimicrobial property is “effective for the lifetime of a device” as stated by James R. Steiner, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Specialty Materials. Corning was able to add the silver while preserving the properties of Gorilla Glass, retaining the protective qualities found in its previous iterations of Gorilla Glass.

Corning’s Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass is currently being tested with a range of manufacturers for various applications. Looking forward to other uses for this technology, Corning sees the antimicrobial screen being installed in a range of electronic devices and other electronic displays as well as architectural structures such as wall panels, doors, windows and protective panels for frequently touched surfaces. We could be seeing this technology used in next generation smartphones and tablets, with Corning stating that “high- volume production capability has been demonstrated.” However, what remains to be seen is which mobile device manufacturers will integrate this technology into their devices.

Check out the video below to see how this fantastic technology works:

How concerned are you with combating bacteria on your mobile devices? Let us know in the comments below!