Microsoft plans to beat germs and disease with self cleaning touch screens

By Tom Warren, on 21st Oct 11 10:46 am with 23 Comments

Microsoft is attempting to patent a self cleaning touch screen.

The technology would enable the use of touch screens in public places where masses of individuals interact with a touch screen on a daily basis. ATMs, checkout kiosks and airport checking machines all use touch screens. The potential for spreading germs and disease across such machines is high thanks to the large amount of people who make use of said machines. “Even if a touchscreen associated with a public kiosk was cleaned on a daily basis, there could be hundreds, if not thousands, of people interacting with the device between cleanings, creating a significant gateway to transmitting illness,” explains Microsoft in a patent filing.

Microsoft’s patent application describes a way for devices to have UV LEDs alongside backlight LEDs. The technology uses proximity sensors to activate a sterilization process across the touch screen to ensure it is cleaned when not in use. Techie Buzz, who spotted the patent on Thursday, note that the technology could be a unique selling point for Microsoft’s future touch devices, including Windows 8.

Microsoft’s auto cleaning touch screens are likely the result of Microsoft’s Research work. The company has been on a roll with its research projects this week.
The software giant revealed its “OmniTouch” technology earlier this week alongside “PocketTouch“. OmniTouch is a research project designed to turn any surface into a touch screen. The project makes use of a Kinect style camera to project output and capture input. Microsoft’s PocketTouch work involves a custom sensor to allow users to control smartphones through clothing. Microsoft also revealed a HoloDesk demo on Wednesday. The technology allows users to  manipulate 3D virtual images with their hands.

Microsoft's self cleaning touch screen patent

  • Adam

    seems unnecessary 

    • Carlos Ribeiro da Fonseca

      Actually, depending on how effective this is, it can be really useful.

      Lots of medical equipments have touch screens and sterilizing them is often difficult or even impossible. If the screen kept themselves sterile it would be one less possible source of hospitalar infections.

      This isn’t just a cool invention, this has the potential to actually save lives.

    • Adam

      didn’t think of that, thanks

    • Andrew Seymour

      If you love germs and disease then I agee this is unncessary but for the rest of the world, this is majorly helpful – I don’t want to catch germs from a Kiosk anywhere – or any public touch screen.

    • Anonymous

      I think the fear of germs actually make the problem worse. Our skin and immune system are the the best defense against germs.  Just don’t put your hands in your mouth and wash before you eat. These technology do ‘t kill all the germs and the strongest one’s usually survive creating super germs over time. I find that the people who constantly rub their hands with anti-germ gels get sick the most because their immune systems isn’t given a chance to build up immunity.

    • Andrew Seymour

      I think it depends, although I do agree in the respect that I believe children should still be exposed to some level of germs rather than being in a “cotton-woll” environment but as adults and as we get older, it’s definitely not something I want to think i’ll get ill all the time – definitely don’t like having time off work either.

    • Anonymous

      I find public touch screens gross, not just because germs. Grease, thumb-prints and other gunk on these screens make me want to puke.

    • Liz

      I fail to believe that — they must not be using the hand sanitizer in the most efficient fashion.  Before I started using hand sanitizer (every time I sit down at my desk at work after being up and around touching the things the rest of my coworkers touch like doorknobs, and every time I get back in the car from going some public place such as a store) I would catch a cold at least once a month.  Now, I catch maybe two or three a year.  Hand sanitizer is your friend!

    • Anonymous

      Don’t know. I never use hand sanitizer and catch a cold maybe once a year and sometimes I don’t get sick at all. I haven’t been so sick that I missed work in years.

    • Gamer

      Children that’ve never fall sick while they were young, being underexposed to germs will eventually die out by the most simple form of bacteria some time in the future.

  • Gamer


  • Michal Gurník

    whyy, i like the germs, they strenghten my immunity since i was a dirt-eating kid :-)

  • Ian

    I think hospitals that are using touch screen devices will be one of those who will benefit this.

    • Accu Distributing

      Yep!  Or they can use a cheaper version The Accu-Text Smart Touch…

  • Anonymous

    i thought they already planing on beating germs :D
    beating extra germs is a good thing 

  • Sriram Sarma

    They better be careful else someone might slap a case against them saying they are monopolizing their touch screens and wiping out the germs/bacteria sharing the space!!

  • NarcoSleepy

    Also doubles as a portable tanning device.

  • Anonymous

    As a germaphobe, thumbs up.  If only we could have this on gas pumps, elevator buttons, and door knobs. Please pass the Wet Ones…

    • J A

      Yeah sniperboy, I also want to add desktops, laptops, tablets, netbooks, ultrabooks, keyboards, mice, book bags, chairs, tables, printers, scanners, shoes, dresses, pants, eye glasses, hands, feet, car steering wheels, entire gyms, ATMs, soccer balls, footballs, all kinds of balls, your mail, socks, hats, your hair, cups, food…..Lol

    • Streptoblogger

      …and that’s how superbugs are made.

    • Gamer

      Hell no, superbugs are made in India and Hong Kong.

    • Accu Distributing

      That is what the Accu-Text Smart Touch is for!

  • Anonymous

    Nice to see more useful innovations from MSFT. You’ll never see this from Apple, they’re too busy creating more toys.