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Apple investigates slimmer, lighter dual-function touchscreens

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
A new patent application revealed this week suggests Apple is looking to improve its touchscreen displays with technology that could make them thinner, lighter and brighter.

The application, entitled "Display with Dual-Function Capacity Elements," describes a pair of voltage lines that run across adjacent display pixels. With the described technology, capacitors could be included in the pixels of an LCD display, and could operate individually.

This method would allow panels with integrated touch sensors to be manufactured with fewer parts and processing steps, allowing the display to be thinner, lighter, and brighter. The method would eliminate the need for a touch sensor panel overlaying a display.

"These dual-function capacitive elements form part of the display system that generates an image on the display, and also form part of a touch sensing system that senses touch events on or near the display," the application reads.

"The capacitive elements can be, for example, capacitors in pixels of an LCD display that are configured to operate individually, each as a pixel storage capacitor, or electrode, of a pixel in the display system, and are also configured to operate collectively as elements of the touch sensing system."

Such technology could be employed in a number of Apple's touchscreen devices, including the iPhone, iPod touch, or its rumored tablet device. The patent application was originally filed on Sept. 29, 2008, and the invention is credited to Steve Porter Hotelling, Shih Chang Chang, Lili Huang, and John Z. Zhong.



Another touchscreen-related patent, entitled "Ambient Light Interference Reduction for Optical Input Devices," describes how ambient light can affect an optical touchscreen sensor on an LCD screen. These photosensors are different from a capacity sensor typically used to recognize surface contact.

The problem with photosensors, the application notes, is that they rely upon shadows being cast upon them, which can be falsely triggered due to changing light conditions. Because of this, ambient light can render the technology unreliable.

"Photosensors are not able to readily distinguish between decreases in light associated with a user's specific input and decreases in light occurring from changing environmental conditions," it states.

The application describes technology that could provide an independent light source that would create electromagnetic signals that cover the glass of the display.

"When the user's finger is proximate to a certain region of the touch panel, the electromagnetic signals reflect off of the user's finger and back through the cover glass," the application reads. "One or more photosensors monitoring the presence of these reflected signals service the various regions on the touch panel where input may be detected.

"Thus, when the reflected signals are detected at a certain region, the user's finger may be assumed to be present. In this manner, input to the optical device can be properly detected despite variations in ambient lighting."

The patent application was filed on July 2, 2008. It is credited to Steve Porter Hotelling and Stephen Brian Lynch.
post #2 of 23
That shapes to be what we at AI were repetitively (1)(2) calling fantastic!

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post #3 of 23
Hopefully Apple will also address the reflective issues of these glass devices.

There is glass available that has <1% surface reflection rate.

What this does is amazing, it allows clear vision of the computer image with virtually no reflections or glare. No hazing of the image like matte screens do.

It's like glossy screens on steroids. People would love it and it would separate Apple's devices from the less quality highly shiny PC tablets and computer screens.
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post #4 of 23
Very nice.
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post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Hopefully Apple will also address the reflective issues of these glass devices.

There is glass available that has <1% surface reflection rate.

What this does is amazing, it allows clear vision of the computer image with virtually no reflections or glare. No hazing of the image like matte screens do.

It's like glossy screens on steroids. People would love it and it would separate Apple's devices from the less quality highly shiny PC tablets and computer screens.

Woh hold on! Please explain the uses of this technology slowly to me and it's potential for Apple devices.
post #6 of 23
If I am understanding this correct, the possibility to simply have your hands hovering over the surface and make suggestions will possible? The "uNtouch" Tablet is here? That would be awsome!!! This might not come right away, but the road seems open...

Edit: I read a thing or two wrong i suppose and got a little bit TOO exited. Well fortunately my imagination is still impact Still a cool patent though!
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post #7 of 23
I can only foresee great things to come from this, I would not be surprised if this technology shows up in Apples soon to be released tablet errr slate device.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olternaut View Post

Woh hold on! Please explain the uses of this technology slowly to me and it's potential for Apple devices.


One brand name is called Museum GlassĀ®, it's slightly more expensive grade of glass used in art studios for clear viewing of a piece without hardly any reflections or glare.

The company TruVue (no comp or connection) makes this glass by altering the surface layer of the glass to less than 1% surface reflection rate.

One can buy this glass by the piece/sq ft at art/framing shops and it's also commercially available as well.

Also this company isn't the only one catering to industry with a product like this, the military regularly uses anti-reflective glass for it's purposes.

After all, you can't see the enemy coming with a reflection of your face in the monitor or window.


What Apple could do for larger devices that reflections are a problem, is to use this type of technology and differ itself from the shiny screen cheap PC crowd with a image that's clear, sharp and vivid, without the annoying distractions of reflections and glare. Also without the fuzziness that matte screens invoke.

I've see this type of glass next to the shiny cheap stuff and the results are clearly amazing. (pun intended)
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post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macfabulous View Post

If I am understanding this correct, the possibility to simply have your hands hovering over the surface and make suggestions will possible? The "uNtouch" Tablet is here? That would be awsome!!! This might not come right away, but the road seems open...

Edit: I read a thing or two wrong i suppose and got a little bit TOO exited. Well fortunately my imagination is still impact Still a cool patent though!


Apple has been working on gesture interfaces for awhile now.

I suspect the new iTablet will be interfaced primarily by touch less gestures watched by the forward mounted iSight camera.

A on screen pointer will track by a finger point, without touching the screen.

The only time to touch the screen? Typing. But it will have a optional wireless roll-up keyboard.

There will be a new UI, like the iPhone UI to make it easier to interface.
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post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Apple has been working on gesture interfaces for awhile now.

I suspect the new iTablet will be interfaced primarily by touch less gestures watched by the forward mounted iSight camera.

A on screen pointer will track by a finger point, without touching the screen.

The only time to touch the screen? Typing. But it will have a optional wireless roll-up keyboard.

There will be a new UI, like the iPhone UI to make it easier to interface.

I can agree with this response, they have been working on touchless interfaces for a while, would love to see this feature in their tablet device when its launched.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

One brand name is called Museum GlassĀ®, it's slightly more expensive grade of glass used in art studios for clear viewing of a piece without hardly any reflections or glare.

The company TruVue (no comp or connection) makes this glass by altering the surface layer of the glass to less than 1% surface reflection rate.

One can buy this glass by the piece/sq ft at art/framing shops and it's also commercially available as well.

Also this company isn't the only one catering to industry with a product like this, the military regularly uses anti-reflective glass for it's purposes.

After all, you can't see the enemy coming with a reflection of your face in the monitor or window.


What Apple could do for larger devices that reflections are a problem, is to use this type of technology and differ itself from the shiny screen cheap PC crowd with a image that's clear, sharp and vivid, without the annoying distractions of reflections and glare. Also without the fuzziness that matte screens invoke.

I've see this type of glass next to the shiny cheap stuff and the results are clearly amazing. (pun intended)

I know you're a huge fan of Museum Glass, and I am no fan of glossy screens, but given that no other computer manufacturer appears to be using this miracle substance, isn't just possible that there are factors at work that mitigate its use in such devices?

I mean, if you can get most or all of the color saturation and contrast with far less glare, I would have thought that it would have been widely adopted by now by the display industry, since it does just what you'd want. The first manufacturer to release such a product would have a huge competitive advantage, I would think, because pretty much everyone would like glossy screen image quality without the gloss.

My guess is that one or more issues are in play: too expensive, too heavy, not scratch resistant enough, undesirable shattering characteristics, extremely high tolerance manufacturing problems.
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post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Apple has been working on gesture interfaces for awhile now.

I suspect the new iTablet will be interfaced primarily by touch less gestures watched by the forward mounted iSight camera.

A on screen pointer will track by a finger point, without touching the screen.

The only time to touch the screen? Typing. But it will have a optional wireless roll-up keyboard.

There will be a new UI, like the iPhone UI to make it easier to interface.

Well, if the rumors are true about the steep learning curve then I'm all for it. If the leap in technology is significant enough then I don't mind learning something new.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Hopefully Apple will also address the reflective issues of these glass devices.

There is glass available that has <1% surface reflection rate.

What this does is amazing, it allows clear vision of the computer image with virtually no reflections or glare. No hazing of the image like matte screens do.

It's like glossy screens on steroids. People would love it and it would separate Apple's devices from the less quality highly shiny PC tablets and computer screens.

This is not necessary because Mac users will simply defend whatever Apple does. Didn't Mac users trash PC laptops for having unreadable glossy screens? But when Macs started using the same glossy screens, suddenly glossy is so much better and anybody who dislikes glossy screens is a whiner.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

This is not necessary because Mac users will simply defend whatever Apple does. Didn't Mac users trash PC laptops for having unreadable glossy screens? But when Macs started using the same glossy screens, suddenly glossy is so much better and anybody who dislikes glossy screens is a whiner.

Just wait for January 27-28, Apple will crush Ballmers slate pc offerings.
post #15 of 23
An electromagnetic barrier may solve the problem of photosensors distinguishing between a user's finger and shadows. But it probably doesn't solve the problem of distinguishing between a finger and other solid objects, such as a shirt sleeve or inner pocket?
post #16 of 23
I hope this is gonna be bigger than Microsoft's Big Ass Table.
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post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

... I would think, because pretty much everyone would like glossy screen image quality without the gloss.


It certainly would reduce the complaints.


Quote:
My guess is that one or more issues are in play: too expensive, too heavy, not scratch resistant enough, undesirable shattering characteristics, extremely high tolerance manufacturing problems.

Then it would make no difference with the glass they are already using that's been cracking and shattering.
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post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

This is not necessary because Mac users will simply defend whatever Apple does.

I'm a Mac user from day one and I don't defend everything Apple does.

You must be talking about a young rabid fanboy who is blind to reason, those exist of course.


Quote:
Didn't Mac users trash PC laptops for having unreadable glossy screens?

Yes we did, because it did look like a desperate attempt, also because it was cheap. Not applying the matte film to the LCD panels saves them money.


Quote:
But when Macs started using the same glossy screens, suddenly glossy is so much better and anybody who dislikes glossy screens is a whiner.

Apple is held hostage by the rest of the PC parts industry and is trending towards touch screen devices which exclude matte, which I assume collects dirt and wears off if touched repeatedly.

A better glass could solve the reflections issue and make life better for everyone.
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post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olternaut View Post

Well, if the rumors are true about the steep learning curve then I'm all for it. If the leap in technology is significant enough then I don't mind learning something new.


Steep learning curve?


Finger point and tap (or double tap) to mimic a mouse.

Swipe up, swipe down to scroll or to turn pages or move a car in a video game etc.

Stuff like that. Easy as pie. Grandma could use it.

No hands in the way of the screen, except to type.


The UI will be based on the iPhone UI and Apps from the AppStore, closed approved environment, no complexities like OS X UI, Windows or Linux with their more open (thus complex) UI's.

All speculation of course, but I suspect Apple is going to make the iSlate the computer of the future, replacing the MacBooks and going on from there depending upon acceptance.
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post #20 of 23
How about investigating a patent for me being able to adjust the brightness on my 24" iMac more than 10% ???
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by c4rlob View Post

How about investigating a patent for me being able to adjust the brightness on my 24" iMac more than 10% ???

Agreed. The lowest brightness is enough to burn your retinas out in a darkened room.
post #22 of 23
In someways it's a shame Apple's patents are not able to be secret. It's telegraphing to the non-innovative industry your thought processes!
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post #23 of 23
He-he... If tablet thing is real and is gonna employ this tech, patents are disclosed at the best possible moment. Competitors are all about to play their aces, nothing can actually be fixed in between, there's no more between.

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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