Apple Patent: Screens with "Display" and "Touch" Modes
If Apple is not
working on a touchscreen computer, they're putting an awful lot of effort into taking out patents for nothing.
The latest patent application
to be discovered deals with very specific issues: preventing changes in voltage supply on an LCD display from affecting the touchscreen, and for saving power when touch is not needed. The idea of a touchscreen that changes from being a monitor to something like an iPad only really makes sense if the device in question is a hybrid like the rumored iMac touch
that's been hinted at before.
The patent application, called "Integrated Touch Sensitive Display Gate Driver
," describes a technology that would switch the power supplies depending on whether the screen was being used for display only or as a touchscreen. An LCD screen needs a power supply that can provide current to turn different elements on to display an image. A touchscreen, on the other hand, needs to detect the change in capacitance when something with dielectric properties - a finger, for example - comes into contact with the screen. In addition, the technology would work "to reduce or eliminate interference from the display circuitry that could affect touch sensing" as a result of poor grounding and limit excess power usage from running the touchscreen when not needed.
This technology obviously lends itself to the kind of convertible computer/tablet that was previously described in a patent application that showed an iMac morphing into an iPad
when it was rotated to the horizontal. The current patent, however, goes even beyond that, talking about a device that would switch from "display mode" into other modes than "touch mode," including "scan mode, audio mode, text mode, etc."