Staying Grounded

So I’ve been using the new Samsung line of Super AMOLED phones, best known to most as the Andriod powered Galaxy-S or Focus for Windows Phone 7. No doubt the screen is magnificently bright and beautiful, the phone is super light and thin…but it would be great if I could touch it!

So as many know, the current generation of touch devices use a capacitive digitizer bonded to the glass screen in order to sense your touch input. For those of you living in colder climates you see the barriers to this technology when you try to answer your phone with gloves on… inevitably leads to failure.

I don’t want to go into how capacitance in touch systems work, but its important to know that one of the fundamental characteristics of touch capacitance is that the device you are touching needs to be well grounded in order for you to conduct a charge on for the device to recognize. Many of you using iPhones don’t see the perils of this as the design of the iPhone accounts for this very well.

However, the same is not true about my Samsung Focus. Here’s the scenario that gets me every morning. I, as many, use my phone as my alarm clock. For years it has found its place as a permanent resident in corner of my bed. It has its home on the side of the bed and you always know where it will be!. At 5:30am your iPhone alarm goes off, you blindly reach over with your right arm, slide to unlock the screen in order to stop the incessant buzzing. So what happens to this scenario when you reach over and try to slide to unlock the Samsung?…. watch….

Why is this happening… I can only assume two things:

  • The ground plate is inadequate
  • The engineers at Samsung have made the decision that people will always be holding their phones with one hand and interacting with the screen with the other. Not the greatest assumption, I hope they don’t assume the same for 7”+ devices?