Late last month, I talked about a very personal and embarrassing problem that I have when it comes to touch screen gaming: sweaty hands. In the days and weeks after, many kind readers sent in possible solutions for me, ranging from surgery to gamer gloves. But the solution that really caught my eye was the RYG Thumbslip.
Let’s be clear right up front. This product was not specifically designed as a solution to sweaty hands on touchscreens — that’s just a happy side effect. Rather it was made to give better precision on a virtual D-Pad. And it does succeed at that.
Each Thumbslip (I used two at once — one for each thumb) is like a glove for a single finger and is made of black leather. On the pad of each thumb is a centimeter long, barbell-shaped piece of plastic that acts as a thumbstick between your thumb and the touch screen.
To test it, I first picked up Golden Axe II on my iPhone and went at it. For the most part, it worked very well on the screen's virtual D-pad — much better than without it. I did feel that my presses were more accurate using the Thumbslip than without — though double tapping a direction to run was still very hit or miss for me. And as the end of the plastic stick covers less of the screen than my thumb, I was able to see the screen better as well.
Then I decided to try a few games without a virtual D-Pad to see how they worked at combating my sweaty hands. I started with Robot Unicorn Attack 2. Unsurprisingly, as my thumbs were quite literally encased in a sheath of leather, the problem was completely solved. Without my sweaty hands to mess up the touch screen's hit detection, I was able to play much longer than normal.
All that's not to say that the product doesn't have a few minor downsides. I found that after playing for 10 minutes or so, a flaky black residue began to appear on my screen — presumably due to the friction between the plastic thumbstick and the iPhone screen. While I couldn't just brush it off with my hand, a quick wipe of a towel was more than enough to clean the screen.
The other downside is that, because they are black leather, the Thumbsticks are hot. If your hands sweat like mine, this means they'll sweat double time while you use them. So you’ll have to be careful to air dry them after ever use. And while I haven't yet used mine long enough for it to happen, I suspect that sooner or later they will start to reek — and leather is hardly machine washable. (Though if it’s like other small leather items I’ve had to clean, a bit of mild dishwashing liquid — mixed first in water and then applied with an old toothbrush — would work to clean them.)
In the end, the RYG Thumbslips worked as advertised. I felt I had more control over a touch screen virtual D-pad and liked that less of my screen was obscured than when using my thumbs alone. And for a gamer with sweaty hands, the RYG Thumbslips really are the answer to a prayer. For the first time ever, I was able to use a touch screen to play games like everyone else. If you have a similar problem, I can't recommend this product enough.
The RYG Thumbslips are available for purchase at its official website for £8.99 ($15) for one thumb or £14.99 ($25) for both.