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Phone screens could soon be visible in direct sunlight and even fight germs

What is unusual about this sheet of glass?

Corning glass transparent treatment

That circle in the center isn’t actually a hole; it received a new treatment from glass manufacturer Corning that makes it incredibly non-reflective. Right now, many phone screens are unreadable in intense sunlight because the glass covering becomes so reflective, but this new treatment could change that.

Corning detailed the new technology at the MIT Technology Review Mobile Summit last month, Phone Arena revealed. Corning manufactures the popular Gorilla Glass, which covers 1.5 billion mobile phones worldwide, including all iPhones.

Corning senior vice president Jeff Evenson also said in his presentation that the company is working on glass that kills viruses and germs — even the drug resistant variety. He displayed how the glass kills microbes over time with slides depicting them as bright green dots. After two hours, the antimicrobial glass had a million times less bacteria than standard phone glass.

Corning antimicrobial glass

Corning antibacterial glass

“You’re eating your sandwich at your desk. Your smartphone rings. You answer it. You complete the call, put your smartphone down and you go back to eating your sandwich with the same hand. Which piece of glass do you want on that device?” Evenson said in the presentation.

Corning didn’t reveal when it will start working with phone manufacturers to get non-reflective, antimicrobial displays into consumers’ hands. During the presentation, Evenson noted a study that found smartphones carry more microbes than the average public toilet. Suddenly, it felt very, very pressing that they get the glass out soon.

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