Zombie Finger: An Introduction to This Touchscreen Phenomenon

Apr 11, 2022

When you press your finger against a smartphone or tablet, you expect it to respond with the appropriate action. Mobile devices support touch commands. Rather than using a keyboard and mouse, you can control them with your finger. There are times, however, when touchscreen devices may fail to respond to touch commands, including zombie finger.

What Is Zombie Finger?

Zombie finger is a coin termed by Consumer Reports. It refers to a condition in which a person can’t perform touch commands on a capacitive touchscreen. It’s not a problem with capacitive touchscreens necessarily. Rather, zombie finger is a problem with a person’s finger or fingers. A capacitive touchscreen may work fine for other people. When someone who suffers from zombie finger tries to use the capacitive touchscreen, though, he or she may struggle to perform touch commands.

Understanding Zombie Finger and What Causes It

Zombie finger will prevent you from performing touch commands on capacitive touchsceeens. It’s characterized by a lack of conductivity in the fingertips. Your fingertips need to be conductive for capacitive touchscreens to register your touch commands. With little or no conductivity, capacitive touchscreens won’t register your touch commands.

The human body is an excellent conductor of electricity. Therefore, our fingertips are naturally conductive. But some people have medical conditions that minimize the conductivity in their fingertips. Skin dryness and calluses, for instance, can make your fingertips less conductive.

If your skin is exceptionally dry — or if you have calluses on your fingertips — you may not be able to perform touch commands on capacitive touchscreens. This phenomenon is known as zombie finger. If your fingertip isn’t conductive, it won’t be able to absorb some of the electrical field produced by a capacitive touchscreen. Therefore, the capacitive touchscreen won’t recognize your touch commands.

Solutions for Zombie Finger

There are several solutions for zombie finger, one of which is to use a resistive touchscreen. Resistive touchscreens don’t require the use of a conductive object. You can perform touch commands on resistive touchscreens using any object. As a result, zombie finger has no impact on resistive touchscreens. Resistive touchscreens will register touch command performed by conductive as well as nonconductive objects.

You can also use capacitive gloves. Capacitive gloves are special gloves that are designed for use with capacitive touchscreens. While they look like ordinary gloves, they feature conductive contacts embedded in the fingertips. Wearing capacitive gloves will typically allow you to control capacitive touchscreens even if you suffer from zombie finger.

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