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Fujifilm to help PC makers take on Apple with new touchscreen tech

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
As the slumping PC industry tries to regain ground against post-PC devices like Apple's iPad, it may get a boost from new, cheaper touchscreen technology from Fujifilm and other lesser-known companies.

atmel
Pictured: A touchscreen display from Atmel.


Bloomberg on Monday reported that Fujifilm and other companies like Atmel and Uni-Pixel are working on new approaches to touchscreen technology. Fujifilm uses silver halide to create nearly-invisible meshes of fine wires capable of detecting touch input.

In the case of Uni-Pixel, the new tech is copper-based, consisting of a grid printed onto rolls of plastic, bypassing the typical manufacturing process for most touchscreens and producing a more durable product.

The new touchscreen players hope to provide a lower-cost alternative to the current standard, which relies on indium tin oxide (ITO), a byproduct of zinc production. ITO is a rare-earth material, and most of its supplies come from China. Nearly all of the screens in Apple's iPhones, iPods, and iPads ? as well as devices from Samsung and other Apple competitors ? contain ITO. In addition to its rarity, the material is brittle, which adds to the difficulty in producing devices that feature it. Such difficulty can lead to lower production yields of the sort occasionally seen with some of Apple's touch-enabled devices.

Microsoft and its PC manufacturing partners hope that cheaper touchscreens will lead to cheaper devices, allowing them to push back against a trend that has seen the wider PC market contracting.

"Touch drives user engagement and is rapidly becoming a must-have capability," a Microsoft rep told Bloomberg.

Most PC manufacturers have seen declining sales, even as Apple's iPad has turned that company into one of the largest computing firms in the world.

Microsoft's touch-enabled Windows 8 was meant to reverse this trend, combining the traditional functionality of Windows with the touch-centric interface popularized by Apple. Instead, the realities of touchscreen production led to more expensive devices, which have failed to draw consumer interest. Adding a touchscreen to a 23-inch to 27-inch display, according to some estimates, adds as much as $180 to the cost of the device. In the case of tablets and smaller computers, it may add $45.

This year will likely see PC sales contract by 1.3 percent, according to IDC. The industry fell 3.7 percent in 2012. PC makers, though, are still looking to touch-capable form factors in order to boost sales. Last year, 2.5 percent of notebooks sold were touch-enabled, and that figure is expected to rise to 13.1 percent this year.

Among the manufacturers expected to integrate the newer touch technology in their offerings is Taiwanese manufacturer Asus. One of the only companies not to have seen considerable sales drops in the declining market, Asus is said to be working with California-based Atmel to build touch tech into its notebooks and devices. Dell, which has been wracked by investor struggles in the face of declining sales, is said to be partnering with Texas-based Uni-Pixel to build its copper-based touchscreens into Dell products.
post #2 of 21
I don't quite understand why the headline is written the way it is. Wouldn't Apple possibly benefit from using this tech too?
post #3 of 21

What about that one type of display that can simulate touching different textures? If anything, you'd think they'd want to jump on that when it's still a gimmick before Apple manages to make one that isn't.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #4 of 21

I don't understand the point of this article.  So only Apple's competitors would benefit from this technology?  It wouldn't be available to Apple if they wanted it? 1confused.gif

post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Microsoft and its PC manufacturing partners hope that cheaper touchscreens will lead to cheaper devices, allowing them to push back against a trend that has seen the wider PC market contracting.

"Touch drives user engagement and is rapidly becoming a must-have capability," a Microsoft rep told Bloomberg.

Most PC manufacturers have seen declining sales, even as Apple's iPad has turned that company into one of the largest computing firms in the world.

Microsoft's touch-enabled Windows 8 was meant to reverse this trend, combining the traditional functionality of Windows with the touch-centric interface popularized by Apple. Instead, the realities of touchscreen production led to more expensive devices, which have failed to draw consumer interest. Adding a touchscreen to a 23-inch to 27-inch display, according to some estimates, adds as much as $180 to the cost of the device. In the case of tablets and smaller computers, it may add $45.

Are they considering tablets as part of the PC market?

 

If not, I don't see touch screens alone driving people back to PCs and, if that's what they're thinking, doesn't seem like the best strategy. I do not foresee the traditional PC market ever gaining share in the future. It's a declining business now. It doesn't mean PC sales won't continue for the next 10-20 or more years, but the sales figures aren't going up from here, only down.

 

It would be great to get away from products that are dependent on rare-earths. As someone else pointed out, I don't see why Apple would not be able to use such technologies if they prove fruitful. More intentionally antagonistic headline writing for clicks?

post #6 of 21
Headline one year from now:

"PC makers pissed off with Apple when it pre-purchases 10 billion dollars of new touchscreen tech from Fujifilm and corners the market"

And the day after that:

"PC makers sulk in the corner..."
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by am8449 View Post

I don't quite understand why the headline is written the way it is. Wouldn't Apple possibly benefit from using this tech too?

 



My thoughts exactly.  If the tech works, is cheaper and easier to produce, what would prevent Apple from adopting it as well then lowering their prices to stay competitive while maintaining profit margins?

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post

 

It would be great to get away from products that are dependent on rare-earths. 

Rare earth metals are not really that rare. They are just expensive to mine because of environmental damage that strip mining causes hence the clean up required by the EPA. China doesn't have any problems like that, therefore China is the primary source of rare earth elements.

 

Also rare earth elements are used in the LED backlight especially the blue and red diodes for which there is no known substitute, so we won't be getting away from RE anytime soon.. 


Edited by mstone - 3/11/13 at 1:32pm

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post #9 of 21

I set up a Windows 8 laptop for someone yesterday, it's an interface begging for touch, without it it's unfamiliar and unwieldy.

 

No wonder PC sale's are declining.

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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

As the slumping PC industry tries to regain ground against post-PC devices like Apple's iPad, it may bet a boost from new, cheaper touchscreen technology from Fujifilm and other lesser-known companies.
 

 

I would like to bet  a hundred, or maybe set a boost, or let somebody loose. Or maybe the headline should be "get a boost" not "let a boost".

post #11 of 21
There goes Microsoft again. Blazing trails in market segments that no consumers want any part of.
Edited by Dookie Howsre - 3/11/13 at 3:22pm
post #12 of 21

I just read about a touchscreen technology that uses the difference in capacitance between multiple human bodies to know WHO is touching it at any given time.

 

So screw password logins and having to choose separate accounts. If Apple picks up that tech, by virtue of the fact that you are the one using the device at any given time, it will bring up your information!

 

Talk about security. Though I imagine multiple people can have the same capacitance, it would be yet another step toward keeping your stuff safe.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by am8449 View Post

I don't quite understand why the headline is written the way it is. Wouldn't Apple possibly benefit from using this tech too?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanTiger View Post

My thoughts exactly.  If the tech works, is cheaper and easier to produce, what would prevent Apple from adopting it as well then lowering their prices to stay competitive while maintaining profit margins?

Apple might benefit, on the devices they offer with a touch screen, if they choose that technology. Also, this article is about the personal computer market, which Apple doesn't offer a touch screen model. A touch screen PC is seen as a leg up on Apple because all of Apple's non-tablets aren't touch screen.

As yet, Apple hasn't announced a consumer use case for vertical screens to have touch capability. Kiosks being an obvious exception, but that's not Apple's business. I tend to agree with Apple on this point, it makes a nice demo, but it's not practical for the long term use. I don't think Microsoft has made a good case for anything but occasional use.
Edited by JeffDM - 3/11/13 at 3:49pm
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

As the slumping PC industry tries to regain ground against post-PC devices like Apple's iPad, it may bet a boost from new, cheaper touchscreen technology from Fujifilm and other lesser-known companies.

Bloomberg on Monday reported that Fujifilm and other companies like Atmel and Uni-Pixel are working on new approaches to touchscreen technology. Fujifilm uses silver halide to create nearly-invisible meshes of fine wires capable of detecting touch input.

In the case of Uni-Pixel, the new tech is copper-based, consisting of a grid printed onto rolls of plastic, bypassing the typical manufacturing process for most touchscreens and producing a more durable product.
 

Notice the bold text above. Nearly-invisible is not completely invisible, which Apple is now offering. Could Apple, who is pushing retina quality displays back up and allow a mesh to appear in front of their crystal clear images? I doubt it. Furthermore, Apple worked hard to eliminate a single thin layer of glass so the display allowed more light to come through; yielding a brighter display or requiring less battery energy for a similar brightness.

 

These cheaper solutions will decrease the image brightness by blocking a bigger percent of light due to the mesh PLUS the use of plastics instead of glass will attenuate light even more so. This solution is spelled F A I L.

 

 

"Touch drives user engagement and is rapidly becoming a must-have capability," a Microsoft rep told Bloomberg.

 

Microsoft wants Windows 8 to be adopted so bad that they'd say this, even though it's only true for Apple iPads.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

What about that one type of display that can simulate touching different textures? If anything, you'd think they'd want to jump on that when it's still a gimmick before Apple manages to make one that isn't.

 

I'm looking forward to Apple improving their touch surfaces to the point where false input is ignored and pressure sensitivity improves their Garageband app to the point where you'd never have to even think about attaching a real keyboard.

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post #16 of 21
Once again, Microsoft fails to really get why people buy iPad. It's not about "touch screen = user engagement." It's Post-PC is a better PC.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #17 of 21
Touch screen not really practical in desktops and All-in- one computers. Fuji Film may be good for other devices as long as accuracy and cost is practical
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

I don't understand the point of this article.  So only Apple's competitors would benefit from this technology?  It wouldn't be available to Apple if they wanted it? 1confused.gif

 

You clicked and read the article, mission accomplished. If there's no "Apple" in the headline you probably would have ignored it.

post #19 of 21

This is important news.

 

Everyone's been looking for a replacement to using ITO.

 

Isn't the iridium supply supposed to be gone by 2020?   This BBC article says even as soon as 2017.

 

(I thought I read that Japan found a rare earth deposit underwater near their country, that could possibly be mined if the price was right.  But again, that's just another push to find cheaper substitutes.)

post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post

Are they considering tablets as part of the PC market?

 

If not, I don't see touch screens alone driving people back to PCs and, if that's what they're thinking, doesn't seem like the best strategy. I do not foresee the traditional PC market ever gaining share in the future. It's a declining business now. It doesn't mean PC sales won't continue for the next 10-20 or more years, but the sales figures aren't going up from here, only down.

 

It would be great to get away from products that are dependent on rare-earths. As someone else pointed out, I don't see why Apple would not be able to use such technologies if they prove fruitful. More intentionally antagonistic headline writing for clicks?

I am of the opinion that if ipads were a bit more friendly to backups and retrieval of data from other devices, many people would be able to use an ipad as their primary device as opposed to also having a notebook or desktop of some sort. That is the awkward thing about whether or not to include them. They still lack some of that functionality needed to fully displace the use of prior form factors even at a personal level. I agree with you regarding the nature of headlines on here at times.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Headline one year from now:

"PC makers pissed off with Apple when it pre-purchases 10 billion dollars of new touchscreen tech from Fujifilm and corners the market"

And the day after that:

"PC makers sulk in the corner..."

That is really silly and highly unlikely.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Rare earth metals are not really that rare. They are just expensive to mine because of environmental damage that strip mining causes hence the clean up required by the EPA. China doesn't have any problems like that, therefore China is the primary source of rare earth elements.

 

Also rare earth elements are used in the LED backlight especially the blue and red diodes for which there is no known substitute, so we won't be getting away from RE anytime soon.. 

It's still not a bad thing to move away from their use wherever possible.
 

post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I just read about a touchscreen technology that uses the difference in capacitance between multiple human bodies to know WHO is touching it at any given time.

 

So screw password logins and having to choose separate accounts. If Apple picks up that tech, by virtue of the fact that you are the one using the device at any given time, it will bring up your information!

 

Talk about security. Though I imagine multiple people can have the same capacitance, it would be yet another step toward keeping your stuff safe.

 

Yeah, I think can use this to differentiate between a few users (at once) rather than to identify them as individuals.

But as time and tech marches on . . . 

 

 

RE the ridiculous headline:

As always, the headline is a useless attention grabber, and always has been (or at least it's always been the current equivalent of "attention grabber," in this case, "click bait"). Though I found hard to believe that journalists would stoop to such brazen subterfuge when I was in the 4th grade, this maxim, which all my teachers pounded into us, has proven itself surprisingly reliable—

 

"Don't just read the headline!'

which I have changed to the even more useful—

 

"Immediately disregard the headline!"

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