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The Finge acts as a barrier against direct contact when using touchscreens and keypads in public places.

Problem – Dirty Cash machines and Chip & Pin keypads

I have always had a problem with using cash machines, especially the ones outside. They are always so dirty and does anyone ever clean them? Next time you are using a cash machine especially one outside look to see how dirty it is. Think who might have used them before you and when did they last wash their hands?

Tests have proved that they are full of bacteria known to cause sickness and diarrhoea.

Germ tests prove cash machines and chip and pin pads are ‘as dirty as public toilets’

And did you know….

  • More than 20 MILLION BRITS are conscious that cash machines are dirty, with a quarter  admitting they try not to use them to avoid having to touch the buttons, getting cash back from the shops instead.
  • “People perceive chip and pin pads to be the least dirtiest, swabbing experiments have actually shown them to be dirtier than public toilets.”

The contactless limit has been increased to £100 per transaction. For security the banks require the user to input their PIN after several contactless transactions. You must input a PIN every time when getting cash back or using self-service petrol pumps.

Studies show that the chip & pin keypads are in fact as dirty as the cash machines people are trying to avoid.

No matter how much we try, we have to interact with high touchpoints, that hundreds if not thousands of people have touched before us,


  • press the door button to get on/off the tram or train,
  • the call button on the lift and selecting the floor required
  • pressing the stop button when on the bus
  • using self checkouts at supermarkets
  • self check-in machines at airports

These are all things we probably do every day and the majority of people do so without giving a thought to how clean they are.

Public Touch screens

This made me aware of how dirty public touchscreens are. We are using touch screens more and more in everyday life. For example ordering food in fast food outlets is now done using touchscreens. How often are the screens cleaned in between customers using them? How good is the personal hygiene of the person in front of you? Have they washed their hands when they have been to the toilet?

You order your food using the touch screen, this food is classed as Finger food, so you are using your hands to eat your food, and have you washed your hands after using the touchscreen? Probably not

In fact, infection-causing bacteria from human and animal faeces can be found on most public touch screens, suggests a new study conducted at London Metropolitan University in the U.K.

I needed something to act as a barrier against direct contact when using touchscreens and keypads in public places

What kind of bacteria is on our touch screens?

Much of these bacteria found in public areas originate from people’s intestines, gut, nose, mouth, throat, and faeces.

“The vast majority of the bacteria found on public touch screens are very contagious. And while anyone can develop an infection, those with weakened immune systems are most at risk,” according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source (CDC).

Traces of faeces have been found on every single McDonald’s touchscreen swabbed in an investigation by’s study with the university’s school of human sciences involved swabs taken from eight McDonald’s restaurants. Six in London and two in Birmingham.

Dr Matewele added:

“Touchscreen technology is being used more and more in our daily lives, but these results show people should not eat food straight after touching them, they are unhygienic and can spread disease.”

“Someone can be very careful about their own hygiene throughout the day, but it could all be undone by using a touchscreen machine once.”

After finding that touch screens are full of bacteria (which really did not come as a surprise) I thought what could I use to avoid touching surfaces, that other people have already touched, and this was in 2018 long before Covid-19.

Research – What was already out there solving this problem

I looked to see if there was anything on the market that I could use to solve this issue. That would allow me to interact with both lift buttons and touch screens. That would allow me to press buttons without coming into direct contact with bacteria and germs that are on these surfaces.  I could not find anything that  acts as a barrier against direct contact when using touchscreens and keypads in public places

Yes, you can use gloves but they do not work on touch screens. Yes you can buy touchscreen gloves but after a while they stop working if they work very well at all and these are not appropriate in warmer months.

How many times do we touch our face without even thinking, wearing gloves does not stop the transfer of bacteria if you touch your faces whilst still wearing gloves? And where do we put the gloves when we take them off? Your coat pocket, handbag, or bag

There are a couple of tools that can be used – some people used keys for example but these then go onto contaminate your coat pocket/bag as they are not cleaned immediately after touching the service and being put in your bag/pocket.

The Idea – The Finge

I wanted to come up with something that could be:

  • Interactive with touch screens
  • Push buttons
  • House in a container to avoid cross contamination when not in use
  • Be easily accessible when required

Since Covid-19 we have all become more aware of how important our personal hygiene is, and the way we shop and pay has drastically changed.

Touch screens are becoming a way of life and you cannot avoid using them. They are in supermarkets, cinemas, airports, & hotels etc. we are being forced to use them whether we want to or not. There are less tills open in the supermarkets; the tills are being replaced with self-checkouts. Same in cinemas, airport check-in etc

This means more people using touch screens, and more reason to avoid direct contact with dirty surfaces

Good hygiene is your best defence. Germs are all around us, and in many cases, unavoidable. People touch their noses or mouths then use a touch screen, which can quickly spread diseases.

We can’t possibly avoid all bacteria and germs, and some exposure to bacteria is in fact healthy and helps build up immunity in our bodies. The Finge allows you to interact with high touchpoints with out coming into direct contact with dirty services.

As mentioned previously the Finge was already in development prior to COVID. But the onset of Covid brought the need to avoid touching things that had been touched by others into sharp focus.

Currently this is achieved by wearing gloves, but these do not work very well on touchscreens; or using hand sanitisers after making direct contact with the contaminated surface.

The Finge provides you with a barrier at the time of use but continues to provide a barrier when not in use as it is housed in a pot attached to a retractable lanyard.

We knew the Finge was relevant before Covid-19, it is even more relevant now. The last 2 years have just emphasised the need for good personal hygiene. The Finge is not a replacement for this but it does act as a barrier against direct contact when using touchscreens and keypads in public places. It also helps with dry hands from over sanitising.

The Finge should be washed regularly with soap and water. The Finge can also be cleaned using hand sanitiser when out and about.


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