September 16, 2020 2 min read
Back in 2014 I had an iPhone 5, and I was spending a lot of time on my motorcycle, an air cooled Ducati Multistrada 1000DS. I would ride it to beautiful locations. Once in a while, I'd stop to take pictures or check the map, and every single time I had to remove my Dainese gauntlet gloves to be able to get the phone to do anything. It wasn't a big deal, but doing it over and over again became tedious. My brother, who rides a BMW R1200GS, challenged me to find a way to make the gloves work with touch. Together we came up with hacks like sawing metallized wires and attaching button batteries to the gloves, but none did the trick.
I asked a good friend who works for a glove manufacturer if he knew how to address this, and he suggested contacting one of his suppliers that was already making some type of material that worked with gloves. I got some samples sent and began testing in earnest. The materials were great! After I stuck them to the gloves, the gloves began to work with my iPhone. But they would not stay on for long with the adhesives and glues I sourced at the local hardware stores.
The next calls were to Avery and 3M, both massive companies with many types of adhesives in their catalog. More samples meant more testing, and frustratingly most of the adhesives worked with some gloves and some materials in some conditions, but none worked with all gloves, materials and conditions. I had to dig a little deeper and got a helping hand from 3Ms engineers to finally arrive at one adhesive. It was a LSE (Low Surface Energy) transfer tape adhesive with excellent bonding characteristics between dissimilar materials.
Using this adhesive together with the conductive material, I was riding everywhere and my gloves were touch screen compatible. Snapping photos, replying to texts and navigating was no longer a nuisance. I began to think about commercializing this solution, and GloveTacts was born.
I worked with local vendors to source and process the materials, and completed the product assembly by hand. The GloveTacts themselves were produced using rotary die cutting and laminating.
This version of GloveTacts was a great solution for thousands of riders like me, but it was not perfect. The conductivity mysteriously stopped after some use, and the adhesive had its share of problems as well. We had to improve quality and performance, so it was back to R&D.
Read what came after the original version here.