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New capacitive touch nodes from Apple could result in thinner iPhones

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Apple is exploring new, smaller conductive nodes for multi-touch devices that would allow electronics like the iPhone and iPad to become thinner and consume less power.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week revealed a new patent application from Apple entitled "Touch Sensing Device Having Conductive Nodes." First discovered by AppleInsider, it describes a new method to create a capacitive touchscreen or panel, which could allow for thinner devices.

Apple's application notes that capacitive sensing technology works well in existing devices, but improvements can still be made. In addition to creating thinner versions of products like the iPhone and iPad, Apple's proposed invention is said to also allow for power savings, potentially granting portable devices a longer battery life.

"In many cases, the size of a portable electronic device can be limited by the size of the operational components used therein..." the application reads. "As such, there can be a desire to make these operational components smaller, thinner, more cost effective, and more power efficient, while maintaining or increasing their functionality to perform operations."

Apple's proposed invention would have conductive nodes placed on a surface opposite a touch panel or display. The two surfaces would be in close proximity, which would allow conductive electrodes and conductive nodes to sense fingertips on the touchable surface.



The application states that having these surfaces be separate, rather than have the conductive nodes on the touch surface itself, would cut down on the hardware necessary for a touch panel.

"By locating the conductive nodes associated with a structure away from, but proximate to, the structure having the touchable surface, the touch sensing device can advantageously be made thinner because it can eliminate extra space and/or components needed for configurations in which the conductive nodes reside on the touchable surface structure," the application reads.

It continues: "This can also advantageously result in power savings and improved performance for a reduced number of components."



In addition to touch displays like the iPhone and iPad, the application also references that the technology could be employed in clickable trackpads on MacBooks, and even the click wheel still used on the iPod classic.

The proposed invention is credited to two of Apple's most prominent engineers, Steve Hotelling and Steve Zadesky. Revealed by the USPTO this week, it was first filed by Apple in July of 2009.

Apple popularized multi-touch with the release of the iPhone in 2007, and owns numerous patents related to its innovative touch technology. Last October, the USPTO formally granted Apple ownership of the invention of multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and virtual knob controls.
post #2 of 42
I wish patent applications were not public till granted. Less time for others to try to find alternatives ways to accomplish the same for ideas they never had.
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post #3 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The proposed invention is credited to two of Apple's most prominent engineers, Steve Hotelling and Steve Zadesky. Revealed by the USPTO this week, it was first filed by Apple in July of 2009.

In a unrelated note, unnamed sources inside Apple say that internal response to Apple's new edict requiring all employees to change their name to Steve, is not going as well as expected.
post #4 of 42
Personally, I'd rather see the phone stay the same size and add a little more battery in the freed-up space.
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From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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post #5 of 42
Yet another example of SJ's and JI's obsession with thinness, though definitely needed in the iPad.
Hopefully it looses some girth in the next gen.
post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Personally, I'd rather see the phone stay the same size and add a little more battery in the freed-up space.

Agreed! i'd like a few days out of a full charge every now and again!
post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJinTX View Post

In a unrelated note, unnamed sources inside Apple say that internal response to Apple's new edict requiring all employees to change their name to Steve, is not going as well as expected.

Haha!

+1
post #8 of 42
I don't see them making the iPhone much thinner, but knowing Apple they'll use the power savings and extra space to make the battery life way longer without size increases.
post #9 of 42
What I'd love to see is a higher resolution capacitive sensor array. Everything else is just secondary at this point.
post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drow_Swordsman View Post

I don't see them making the iPhone much thinner, but knowing Apple they'll use the power savings and extra space to make the battery life way longer without size increases.

More likely they will make the battery bigger to reduce the battery life hit from adding LTE.
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drow_Swordsman View Post

I don't see them making the iPhone much thinner, but knowing Apple they'll use the power savings and extra space to make the battery life way longer without size increases.

Yeah, I think they've pretty much hit the perfect size, much thinner and it could get difficult to hold to your ear, or when using as a camera. But, more battery, and battery life, would certainly always be welcome, despite the fact that some posting here have insisted that Apple won't be able to increase battery life significantly.
post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple is exploring new, smaller conductive nodes for multi-touch devices that would allow electronics like the iPhone and iPad to become thinner and consume less power....

No offence but why bother to post this? The text doesn't explain ... well anything really, and the pictures are similarly cryptic. All anyone can get from this is that Apple's doing *something* to touch displays to make them come out thinner.

It's especially weird that you bothered to include the pictures when they don't actually help explain anything.

What's the point?
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple is exploring new, smaller conductive nodes for multi-touch devices that would allow electronics like the iPhone and iPad to become thinner and consume less power.

I couldn't imagine a thinner iPhone being very practical, but even if they do it and somehow remove the home button people would be drooling over it still. The longer battery life would be great , i can't tell you how many chargers i have so that can charge where ever i may be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJinTX View Post

In a unrelated note, unnamed sources inside Apple say that internal response to Apple's new edict requiring all employees to change their name to Steve, is not going as well as expected.

A company of steves.
post #14 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

No offence but why bother to post this? The text doesn't explain ... well anything really, and the pictures are similarly cryptic. All anyone can get from this is that Apple's doing *something* to touch displays to make them come out thinner.

It's especially weird that you bothered to include the pictures when they don't actually help explain anything.

What's the point?

Just because you are unable to understand something does not mean other people cannot find value in it.
post #15 of 42
The iPhone will be thinner. Much thinner. The battery life will be much longer.

Material costs will be reduced significantly.

In fact, one day the iPhone will be like a credit card. Even disposable, like contact lenses.

Turn it on with a finger/thumb print. Activate, update, restore and recharge even thru your bank or bank-like machine.

My only hope, is that i will be around to tell many of you, "I told so," or that many of you are not still around.
post #16 of 42
Now take the new thin screen and make it 4"
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I wish patent applications were not public till granted. Less time for others to try to find alternatives ways to accomplish the same for ideas they never had.

Except that if it's too similar to Apple's design it would infringe on Apple's patent.

This sort of thing is why I much prefer Apple products over others, it's just engrained in them not to accept the status quo but in every way to think, "I bet we can make this better." They don't innovate because they are much smarter than everyone else, they innovate because they are obsessed with the idea that there is always room for improvement. Contrast that with a lot of companies that have more of a "if it's working why change it" attitude. Apple makes changes because they genuinely want technology to get better, many others (not all) make changes because they need to maintain an edge that will increase sales. They do just enough to keep up with competition but no more.

To be fair I think HTC is another company that truly wants to make things better.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezetation View Post

Except that if it's too similar to Apple's design it would infringe on Apple's patent.

This sort of thing is why I much prefer Apple products over others, it's just engrained in them not to accept the status quo but in every way to think, "I bet we can make this better." They don't innovate because they are much smarter than everyone else, they innovate because they are obsessed with the idea that there is always room for improvement. Contrast that with a lot of companies that have more of a "if it's working why change it" attitude. Apple makes changes because they genuinely want technology to get better, many others (not all) make changes because they need to maintain an edge that will increase sales. They do just enough to keep up with competition but no more.

To be fair I think HTC is another company that truly wants to make things better.

This.

Except i don't agree with your opinion about HTC..
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

No offence but why bother to post this? The text doesn't explain ... well anything really, and the pictures are similarly cryptic. All anyone can get from this is that Apple's doing *something* to touch displays to make them come out thinner.

It's especially weird that you bothered to include the pictures when they don't actually help explain anything.

What's the point?

You're right, it was cryptic. But what I gleaned from it was that the sensors themselves could be placed elsewhere in the case while connected to the surface by wires. This would allow the sensors to be tucked away discontinuously to take advantage odd sized leftover space.

Or not.
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post #20 of 42
It just seems that Apple nowadays has a ton of ideas they want to get into.

They had a lot of Patents approved in 2010, but they weren't the biggest approved. IBM, Microsoft and others beat them out. But the big difference is that Apple seems to have a plan to the Patents they are seeking. And most of the stuff they keep coming up with seems to be very appealing to a whole lot of folk.
I don't think you can say the same thing about the other guys.

If Apple shares keep climbing relevant to all the things they keep coming up with, 2012 should show them as the biggest company in the world.

As a side note: It had been mentioned that Steve Jobs liked to keep work groups small, in order to remember peoples names. If they have that many Steves. Maybe they will be hiring more people.
post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sythesigh View Post

This.

Except i don't agree with your opinion about HTC..

Fair enough. And I suppose you won't be the last.
post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by iLiver View Post

Yet another example of SJ's and JI's obsession with thinness, though definitely needed in the iPad.
Hopefully it looses some girth in the next gen.

Lift weights. If you find that device thick you're nuts. Outside of a few millimeters of reduction you don't sacrifice strength to please the one out of the many in a crowd.
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by juandl View Post

It just seems that Apple nowadays has a ton of ideas they want to get into.

They had a lot of Patents approved in 2010, but they weren't the biggest approved. IBM, Microsoft and others beat them out. But the big difference is that Apple seems to have a plan to the Patents they are seeking. And most of the stuff they keep coming up with seems to be very appealing to a whole lot of folk.
I don't think you can say the same thing about the other guys.

If Apple shares keep climbing relevant to all the things they keep coming up with, 2012 should show them as the biggest company in the world.

As a side note: It had been mentioned that Steve Jobs liked to keep work groups small, in order to remember peoples names. If they have that many Steves. Maybe they will be hiring more people.

They tend to patent new ways to do things we've always done. IBM & Microsoft tend to patent things relating to stuff most of us never use, sometimes they are concepts that are likely to be irrelevant by the time they become practical. Apple has been very good at having their finger on the pulse of tech trends, though there are probably a lot of people who feel it is because they are good at selling people on their way of doing things. Me personally I just like how much most of their products seem to simplify things, saves me a lot of time on the simple stuff. I know several people who dislike Apple products for that very reason, they'd rather have 100 different ways to do something and an interface so complex you have to be a bit of a techie to use it. I get enough techie at work, I just need my devices in my life to work so I can spend time with my family instead of reloading computers or on the phone with support. Probably spent couple hours on the phone every 3-4 months with support for my BBerry and back when I had a PC I would end up re-installing everything every 1-2 months because some driver update botched the system or some other unexplained issue arose (usually with windows updates). When Apple went Intel I switched and now I hardly even have to touch my computer at home, unless I want to that is.
post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by juandl View Post

They had a lot of Patents approved in 2010, but they weren't the biggest approved. IBM, Microsoft and others beat them out. But the big difference is that Apple seems to have a plan to the Patents they are seeking. And most of the stuff they keep coming up with seems to be very appealing to a whole lot of folk.
I don't think you can say the same thing about the other guys.

You're right ..... It's the difference between a company like Apple who, time and time again, has stated that their goal/philosophy is to make "insanely great products/services" ..... as opposed to the "other guys" who just throw s**t at the wall to see what sticks .... no vision, no goal, no focus, other than to "make money" .... it just blows my mind that so many companies "just don't get it"! ..... It's not like it's rocket science or something. Most of us have long ago learned that ... what we focus on is what we achieve. ...
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post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Personally, I'd rather see the phone stay the same size and add a little more battery in the freed-up space.

Absolutely agree, are you listening Apple,..
post #26 of 42
Hey ex-Palm, ex-CEO Ed Colligan,

Remember when you commented back in 2006 regarding the persistent rumors that Apple will be introducing a Apple phone in the near future, and that you were not concerned about Apple's possible entry into the smart-phone market?

"We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,'' he said. "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.''

Well maybe your're right with regards to some "PC guys"...

But these were Mac guys Ed, and this is what happens when THE REAL PC GUYS figure this out when they just walk in!

And it's only the beginning Ed. Only the beginning!

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hezetation View Post

They tend to patent new ways to do things we've always done. IBM & Microsoft tend to patent things relating to stuff most of us never use, sometimes they are concepts that are likely to be irrelevant by the time they become practical. Apple has been very good at having their finger on the pulse of tech trends, though there are probably a lot of people who feel it is because they are good at selling people on their way of doing things. Me personally I just like how much most of their products seem to simplify things, saves me a lot of time on the simple stuff. I know several people who dislike Apple products for that very reason, they'd rather have 100 different ways to do something and an interface so complex you have to be a bit of a techie to use it. I get enough techie at work, I just need my devices in my life to work so I can spend time with my family instead of reloading computers or on the phone with support. Probably spent couple hours on the phone every 3-4 months with support for my BBerry and back when I had a PC I would end up re-installing everything every 1-2 months because some driver update botched the system or some other unexplained issue arose (usually with windows updates). When Apple went Intel I switched and now I hardly even have to touch my computer at home, unless I want to that is.

I think it helps that Apple is incredibly focused. Outfits like MS or IBM (or even Samsung and Sony, for that matter) have fingers in a millions pies. I get the impression that they have all kinds of projects in development, working on the principle that if you keeps enough balls in the air something may eventually land that looks useful.

Apple doesn't that luxury. They make a relative handful of devices, organized around even fewer product lines, and all they want to do in the world is eke out some competitive advantage by improving those specific devices in specific, tangible ways. IBM may be doing basic research into semiconductor design, MS may have labs devoted to blue-sky thinking around futuristic interfaces, but Apple wants to make faster, lighter, more efficient iPads, iPhones, and laptops now.

Of course Apple also does development for more speculative products further out, but even here they benefit from a strong sense of where they're going. I suspect the entire iOS platform was on the drawing table within months of Steve's return to Apple, being the "next insanely great thing." And I have no reason to believe that the next thing beyond that is being nailed down, with patentable technologies, even now. But whatever it is its not going to be proof of concept distractions like Surface or Courier. It'll be a solid vision of what computing looks like after, say, 2020, with a fully fleshed out road map and a time table for bringing products to market.
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post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Personally, I'd rather see the phone stay the same size and add a little more battery in the freed-up space.

Agreed... Not to mention that if the phone gets any thinner I'd be very nervous about it snapping apart like a chocolate candy bar.
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post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Personally, I'd rather see the phone stay the same size and add a little more battery in the freed-up space.

Agreed. Making the iPhone thinner might also affect camera performance, specifically with reference to depth of focus.
post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Onhka View Post

The iPhone will be thinner. Much thinner. The battery life will be much longer.

Material costs will be reduced significantly.

In fact, one day the iPhone will be like a credit card. Even disposable, like contact lenses.

Turn it on with a finger/thumb print. Activate, update, restore and recharge even thru your bank or bank-like machine.

My only hope, is that i will be around to tell many of you, "I told so," or that many of you are not still around.

Even if battery performance in a thinner device could match or exceed the existing device, I think making the device much thinner is likely to negatively impact camera performace - the lens would practically be sitting on top of the image sensor.
post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by penchanted View Post

Even if battery performance in a thinner device could match or exceed the existing device, I think making the device much thinner is likely to negatively impact camera performace - the lens would practically be sitting on top of the image sensor.

It's always a juggling act, always tradeoffs. Size, weight, performance, battery life. Each impacts all the others. Apple seems to do a pretty good job of finding a happy medium, with perhaps a bit of a bias towards size.
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post #32 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I think it helps that Apple is incredibly focused. Outfits like MS or IBM (or even Samsung and Sony, for that matter) have fingers in a millions pies. I get the impression that they have all kinds of projects in development, working on the principle that if you keeps enough balls in the air something may eventually land that looks useful.

Apple doesn't that luxury. They make a relative handful of devices, organized around even fewer product lines, and all they want to do in the world is eke out some competitive advantage by improving those specific devices in specific, tangible ways. IBM may be doing basic research into semiconductor design, MS may have labs devoted to blue-sky thinking around futuristic interfaces, but Apple wants to make faster, lighter, more efficient iPads, iPhones, and laptops now.

Of course Apple also does development for more speculative products further out, but even here they benefit from a strong sense of where they're going. I suspect the entire iOS platform was on the drawing table within months of Steve's return to Apple, being the "next insanely great thing." And I have no reason to believe that the next thing beyond that is being nailed down, with patentable technologies, even now. But whatever it is its not going to be proof of concept distractions like Surface or Courier. It'll be a solid vision of what computing looks like after, say, 2020, with a fully fleshed out road map and a time table for bringing products to market.

One of the first things Jobs did when he returned to Apple was shut down the Advanced Technology Group. Besides the obvious financial benefits, I think Jobs saw this kind of research as what led to the problems with delivering Copeland and Gershwin.

Jobs seems to prefer research that leads to the "possible" rather than grand schemes which open up the "impossible". I once feared that this approach would hurt Apple down the road but here we are 13 years later and Apple is stronger than ever. This approach leads to patents that are more likely to be used and monetized sooner.
post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

It's always a juggling act, always tradeoffs. Size, weight, performance, battery life. Each impacts all the others. Apple seems to do a pretty good job of finding a happy medium, with perhaps a bit of a bias towards size.

True enough. But I really do think we are getting down to the limits of optics and physics with regard to camera performance as we know it. Perhaps Apple is working on addressing the depth of focus issue in some new way - I certainly would not bet against them.
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by penchanted View Post

One of the first things Jobs did when he returned to Apple was shut down the Advanced Technology Group. Besides the obvious financial benefits, I think Jobs saw this kind of research as what led to the problems with delivering Copeland and Gershwin.

Jobs seems to prefer research that leads to the "possible" rather than grand schemes which open up the "impossible". I once feared that this approach would hurt Apple down the road but here we are 13 years later and Apple is stronger than ever. This approach leads to patents that are more likely to be used and monetized sooner.

Yes. Apple's success these last years can be attributed to a combination of "just enough" vision to yield pragmatic advances combined with the focus and discipline to ship working product.

I think that's why some folks get so cranky about Apple's style-- that they're "not really" innovating and just "slightly improving" existing tech. That may be true in a sense, but conveniently ignores the fact that the rest of the industry is either doing nothing at all to advance the art, as in the case of low margin parts assemblers, or tossing around unfocused, vaporous visions of the future, as in the case of MS or, horrifyingly, Samsung and their bizarre presentation at CES.
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post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by eyepad View Post

Now take the new thin screen and make it 4"

Apparently I'm not allowed to post anything under 5 characters so this line must precede my

+1
post #36 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by iLiver View Post

Yet another example of SJ's and JI's obsession with thinness, though definitely needed in the iPad. Hopefully it looses some girth in the next gen.

Lift weights.

If undoing his belt causes iLiver to "loose girth" then lifting weights is definitely advised
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post #37 of 42
While I may be personally looking to get thinner...

My iPhone? Not so much...
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post #38 of 42
They will be doubling as credit cards soon!
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post #39 of 42
Just shows Apple is inovative and just not complacent with their current showcase.
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

They will be doubling as credit cards soon!

Remember how the original iPod shuffle had a "do not eat" disclaimer? Maybe one day we'll see them reminding users that it's bad etiquette to floss with their iPhones.
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