October 19, 2010

elephant journal Review: Agloves.

“Everyday gloves reinvented for a touch screen world.”

“Agloves are everyday knit gloves reinvented for a touch screen world. They are gloves you can text in, type in, call in. Knitted with silver, Agloves allow users to effectively operate iPhones, iPads, Droids, MP3 players, and all other capacitive touch screen devices while staying warm. Envisioned and created by Boulder-based outdoor enthusiasts with a scientific bent, we want our everyday gloves to seamlessly function with our technology, wherever we may go.”

I give Agloves an A/A+ based on usability and ingeniousness! If they were a little more eco, I’d give ’em eleven out of ten.

Below you will find a short write-up of my first experience with the gloves as well as a Q & A with the founders of Agloves (at the bottom). Click here for more on the glove science or to learn more about Agloves.

The first cracks of sunlight inched over the mountaintops, the heavy autumn air readied the day for rain, I wrapped myself in gloves and scarves and thick socks and embarked on my morning walk with a warm (coffee-heated) heart. Enjoying the walk alongside my pup, the time wouldn’t stop ticking on and 9 A.M. was quickly approaching. I wasn’t yet ready to go inside and resume my daily routine as a hermit, alone with glazed eyes at the computer screen. So, with the crisp, awakening breezes, I reached my gloved hand in my pocket and quickly brought out my phone with the intention to check out the happenings online. Just a slight touch and horizontal flick of my thumb later, I was active on my iPhone.

With ordinary gloves, I would have had to succumb to the weather, take off my gloves and freeze my fingertips in order to work my iPhone. On this beautiful fall morning, my silver-threaded Agloves allowed me to conveniently, and warmly, get to work while my pup played.

“Contrary to popular belief, touch screens and iPhones aren’t heat-sensitive,” Jennifer Spencer, Founder of Agloves, said. Instead, touch screens are capacitive.” Memo to non-science-y folks: capacitive devices require small electrical currents from hands to activate the device. Silver is conductive. A conductive element, such as silver, allows electrical currents to pass. Thus, Agloves use your hand’s own natural electrical charge to operate the device.

But how effective will the gloves be when the temperature drops and snow blankets the ground (and my Agloves)? Will Agloves keep my touch-screen-using-functional-fingers from freezing?

Since it’s still Fall, I wasn’t able to test their workability when they get snow covered, but according to the Agloves website, the gloves work great when wet and even when it is really cold out. To me, Agloves seem to work more as a lightweight liner, great for mild to cold weather—however, silver is supposed to be a great material for warmth because it “provides natural thermal conductivity.” Agloves is also currently working on a thicker, warmer, ski-glove-esque version.

Most importantly, the gloves allow great texting, browsing and typing capability. I wish they were slightly longer down my wrists, but the price of the gloves is crazy-low, which I like, and perhaps longer gloves and more material would have upped the price. I’m a bit obsessed with the name too. It’s silver (Ag is the chemical symbol for silver). It’s love. It’s Agloves. Brilliant!

Click for Apple’s iPad is Delicious video

Q & A with Jennifer and Jean Spencer, founders of Agloves:

1. Everyone has ‘great’ ideas over a drink or coffee. How did you actually turn your great idea into reality?

Jean: This is so true, and definitely the hardest part of starting a business. I guess there were a couple factors that helped make our Agloves idea come to fruition. One, we had a great team behind it. Jennifer Spencer, my mom, and the company’s president, has a trunk-full of new venture, business strategy and marketing experience and was enthusiastic about the project.

Jennifer: It takes 75% optimism and 25% skepticism to turn an idea into reality. Optimism is a commitment to a vision, steadfastness in overcoming obstacles, an ability to bounce back and redirect when one course of action fails. It is convincing others of the concept before it is an actual product. Skepticism is a self-evaluation to make sure that fantasy is not trumping reality. It is also a continual check to make sure that the concept (not your hope of concept) is proving out.

2. How did you decide on the price of $17.99? This seems inexpensive to me.

Jean: We think so too! We wanted Agloves to be affordable because it shouldn’t cost you a fortune to be able to answer your cell phone during winter. Cell phone bills are enough. $17.99 is basically the cheapest we can sell the gloves for. Since they are lined with real silver, the cost of the glove thread is actually the company’s biggest expense. Still, since we are online only at this point, we don’t have a lot of costs associated with packing, trucking and shipping orders to retailers across the country.

Jennifer: This was a strategic decision. Data suggests that touch screen devices are more favored by consumers. Their satisfaction with touch screens phones, kiosks, GPS systems, fishing depth finders, Mp3s, readers, games, etc. is higher than devices without touch screens.

This data helped to formulate the pricing strategy. We wanted our gloves to be affordable to a wide audience, to become the everyday glove that integrates seamlessly with everyday technology. Test markets indicated that we could sell the glove in the $35 range. But that pricing was too high for an everyday glove. $17.99 makes the gloves available to more people.  And that is our goal. Everyday gloves reinvented for a touch screen world.

3. Are the gloves recyclable?

I don’t know.

4. Where are the gloves made?

The gloves are made in the United States. (Yay! ~ L.B.)

5. Are the gloves eco? If not, is there the possibility of an eco line sometime in the future?

Computers themselves are not eco-friendly. However, they do promote the transfer of paperless data, (for example journals like Elephant Journal.)  In a similar way, these gloves are not themselves eco-friendly. They are made of nylon, spandex and silver. However, they support the transfer of paperless data. One can stand at a bus stop, in the winter, and read Elephant Journal on their iPhone.

6.Where does the silver come from?

Silver is embedded onto the surface of a continuous filament nylon.  This product is produced in the U.S. Is this a sustainable practice? No.

6 1/2. Is recycled silver available? Silver is recycled in some instances but to my knowledge, it is not marketed as such.

7. What is the life expectancy of these gloves?

That probably really depends on the amount of use. The materials in these gloves are very durable (continuous filament nylon and spun polyester).

7 1/2. Will the silver wear out quicker than the gloves or are they one in the same?

Jennifer: Should be the same. The silver does not “wear” off or “wash” off.  It is embedded in the nylon.

Jean: They are one in the same. I guess the life expectancy depends on how much you use the gloves. They tend to soften up a bit as they are worn, but the silver and nylon threads are intertwined—and really one thing. So as the gloves wear out, it happens at once.

8. Would it be possible to make a thicker, warmer version of these gloves? Right now, the gloves seem more like lightweight, liner gloves. Would the silver work if the tips of the gloves weren’t right up against the hands?

Jean: This is a two-part answer. First, yes, there are plans to make other Agloves varieties. We have already begun sketching designs for warmer skiing-type gloves and mittens. But, as the second part of your question touches, the trick is getting your hands to touch the silver. The electricity from your hands won’t jump a down-layer, for instance, to a silver layer. It’s been fun to think about designs that would allow for the same amount of accuracy with a much warmer glove. We hope as the company grows we can release these.

Jennifer: The simple answer is yes. We currently have these gloves in development. The longer answer has two parts:

1) Touch screen gloves must let the wearer have both accuracy and speed on their devices. The way that iPhones work is to interpret both commands and gestures (buttons and swipes) from your fingertips. For wearers to swipe, type and pull on the screen with accuracy, they need to “feel” their screen through the gloves. Lightweight yarns and spandex give Agloves a snug fit for precision gesturing.

2) Silver has the greatest conductivity and the greatest thermal conductivity of any element. The silver in the gloves wants to even out temperatures in your hand. It traps some of the infrared radiation generated by the body keeping the wearer warmer in cold weather. Silver was the secret to making lightweight gloves warm. Agloves can be a standalone glove or a glove liner.

3) To answer your question specifically, one of the design features that makes Agloves work so well is silver nylon knitted throughout the entire glove—not just on the fingertips. The greater surface area provided for the conductive material (silver) translates into a warmer, better texting, more reliable glove for the wearer.

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