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Touchscreen gloves for sub-zero temperature

10 April 2012



The patent-pending ISGLOVES are the only double-layered touchscreen gloves-mittens in the market


FiETT founders: (from left) Yan Liang, Zhi Yun, Charmain and Fitzkhoon

How do you use your touchscreen phone or iPad at a temperature of -10°C without freezing your fingers off?

Charmain Tan faced this problem during her NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) Stockholm programme in winter. She could not find gloves that keep her hands warm while allowing usage of a touchscreen phone or tablet PC.

To address this need, the NUS Faculty of Science undergraduate decided to create her own solution - touchscreen gloves that double up as mittens.

To turn her idea into reality, Charmain got together three like-minded NUS friends: Fitzkhoon Liang, an alumnus from NOC Stockholm programme; Tan Yan Liang, an alumnus from NOC Shanghai programme; and Cia Zhi Yun, a student from the School of Design and Environment. Both Fitzkhoon and Yan Liang are students with the Faculty of Engineering.

They set up FiETT (Fun in Ecological Tech Textile) to develop and manufacture the glove-within-a-mitten. The startup is being incubated by NUS Enterprise, enabling it to access business clinics, mentorship, networks and infrastructure support.

Hand-held touchscreen devices such as iPhone and iPad are made of capacitative screens which detect changes in electrical impulses from the user. A normal winter glove is made of insulative materials that prevent the detection of the signals from the fingers, thus curtailing the use of the device.

FiETT's ISGLOVES have an outer layer woven from eco-friendly materials - recycled polyester and recycled 3M Thinsulate microfibers that trap heat effectively. The inner gloves are knitted from sustainable bamboo which is anti-bacteria, hypoallergenic and sweat absorbent, together with conductive polyester that possess conductive and touch-sensitive functionalities. The removable cap of the outer mitten can be flipped over at the fingers to allow operation of the touchscreen device while keeping the fingers warm by insulating the heat within the mitten.

The team members' diverse expertise dovetails each other seamlessly. Charmain, whose inspiration sparked off the invention, looked after operations of the Singapore startup. Fitzkhoon tapped his international sales experience picked up during his internship to develop the sales and marketing strategy for the gloves. Yan Liang leveraged on his contacts in China and negotiation skills learnt during his stint in Shanghai to source for materials and mass produce the product. Zhi Yun applied her Industrial design skills to fashion a unique design for the gloves.

The patent-pending invention, now retailing in Sweden and online at fiett.com, is the only double-layered touchscreen handwear in the market.

FiETT won a Demoguru Award for their innovative product at the inaugural regional Demo Asia event held in March. The gloves also received an honourable mention in the prestigious international "red dot award: product design 2012" where a total of 4,515 submissions from 58 countries competed in 19 categories.

The four final year students are thrilled with the recognition and intend to leverage on it to establish a network of retailers and distributors in Singapore, Australia, the US, Norway and Denmark this year.


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