Microsoft Wants to Clean Up Your Germ-Infested Smartphone Screen

Your smartphone is a dirty, dirty little thing. If scientists swabbed that grody brick for germs, they might find some of these nasties and, sadly, almost definitely the last one: E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus, yeast and fecal matter. And, shoot, that’s just the short list, guys.   

It’s a vicious cycle. You touch your phone dozens of times a day at least, maybe even hundreds. And the germs you come into contact with from everything you paw between phone zone sessions -- doorknobs, dollars, elevator buttons, toilet seats, etc. -- get all over you and, inevitably, all over your precious phone, too. Yuck.

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Disinfectant wipes are a decent temporary solution, but they can’t kill all bacteria and viruses all of the time. And flimsy screen protectors are a pain to put on and typically don’t last very long. The bugs win, whatever you do.  

Microsoft knows this, and it feels your heebie-jeebies and wants to make it all better. Hopefully 99.9 percent better. Last week the tech behemoth briefly blogged about its new patent for a UV light system that it says could automatically disinfect mobile device touchscreens -- and apparently even your fingertips as well.

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The potential antimicrobial cleaning system would be centered around a UV and visible light transparent film material that would go onto or in touchscreen-equipped devices. “UV light is emitted from a UV light source into an edge of the transparent film material in order to transfer the UV light through the transparent film material while remaining in the transparent film material through total internal reflection effect,” the patent reads, per the April 10 Microsoft blog post. “Some UV light exits the transparent film material at points of contact to disinfect fingertips and immediate surrounding areas through the frustrated total internal reflection effect.”

We hope Microsoft moves forward with the fresh initiative. It could offer a nice, simple solution to a really disgusting problem, one that most of us would rather not think about and are too lazy to properly deal with on our own. Too bad the auto-cleaning system would probably only be available for the company’s own touchscreen gizmos, like Microsoft Surface tablets and Microsoft Lumia smartphones, as hinted at in the blog post.

Related: The Makers of This Solar-Powered Technology Want to Eliminate a Global Sanitation Issue

Edition: October 2016

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