We’ve all seen that touchscreen device in the store that’s covered with fingerprints (and possibly contagions) from curious shoppers. While it’s unlikely that we’ll get sick from all that touching, Microsoft is trying for a patent that would set our minds at ease. The method would send ultraviolet light bouncing through a film on or inside a touchscreen, disinfecting fingertips and contact areas without blasting the person directly. Processing inside the gadget could also dictate just when and for how long the UV blast would run. It could kick in only after a user was done, for example, and last just long enough to kill common germs. There’s no clues that Microsoft is about to use the technology in real-world products. Still, we wouldn’t mind touching an extra-sanitary Windows phone or tablet — or rather, someone else’s.
Update: Microsoft applied for a UV cleaning approach before, but that depended on coupling UV with the backlight; this newer patent would give Microsoft considerably more flexibility.