Apple Working on Thinner, Brighter Mobile Touch Screens
A recent Apple patent application shows the company's work on a new generation of touchscreens that may one day lead to slimmer, brighter screens on computers and phones. The new technology, as revealed on the Patently Apple website
, would eliminate the additional layer of capacitive material above the LCD screen, making each pixel itself actually touch-sensitive, and allowing the display itself to be brighter and somewhat thinner. Also, the technology would permit users to scroll by manipulating the edges of the display.
On the surface of a touchscreen, there's a layer of nearly transparent material which has a grid of capacitors on it. Each element stores a very small electrical charge that's reduced when your finger comes in contact with it. The iPhone screen uses mutual capacitance as a way of separating and identifying multiple points of contact. This enables the multi-touch interface software to figure out the relative location and movement of multiple taps, gestures, and swipes.
Apple's new technology involves something called "dual-function capacitive elements." These components would both display colored light as well as providing capacitive sensing, allowing the same element to show a pixel and report touches on that screen element. According to the application, this could mean a "display with integrated touch sensing capability may be manufactured using fewer parts and/or processing steps, and the display itself may be thinner and brighter."
Speculation that this patent specifically has to do with the forthcoming (still vapor) Apple tablet is somewhat diminished by drawings in the application that show a "mobile telephone" and a "personal computer." Other recent patents revealed by the Patently Apple site show that Apple is working on a range of touch technologies, such as the recently released Magic Mouse, and it seems clear that innovative uses of multi-touch are a big part of the company's future plans for all its products.
image via Patently Apple