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Apple patents tech for making curved touch surfaces, displays

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday awarded Apple a patent that describes a method for efficiently manufacturing curved touch surfaces, suggesting the company may be experimenting with curved iOS device displays.

Curved iPhone
Curved iPhone concept, via MyVoucherCodes.


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,603,574 for a "Curved touch sensor" details a manufacturing technique that produces accurate, curved touch surfaces without deficiencies caused by substrate warping or deformation. The patent's claims specifically cover use of the technology in displays, touch pads and touch mice, among other devices.

Apple notes that current touch panel technologies, specifically stackups containing thin-film conductors, are difficult to work with due to a "desired thinness of the substrate and thin film." For example, when depositing thin films over a flexible substrates like plastic, the annealing, or heating, temperature must be kept relatively low to avoid structural damage. Manufacturers, however, may prefer to employ high annealing temperatures for added thin film resistiveness and enhanced optical properties.

Curve
Candidate devices for Apple's curved touch surface tech. | Source: USPTO


To avoid deformation due to the annealing process, the patent proposes a technique that deposits a conductive thin film over a flexible substrate while it is in a flat state. Once the electrodes are in place, the substrate package is joined to a curved "forming substrate" and subsequently heated. The process results in a non-deformed curved touch sensor stackup with a thin film that benefits from the high-temperature anneal.

As noted in the patent, some current applications do not have true curved touch surfaces. In the graphic above, the figure on the left represents a regular flat touch stackup, with cover glass on top and LCD display on the bottom.

Curve

The middle illustration represents a simplification of a structure that does not use Apple's curved touch panel technique. To give the appearance of a convex touch surface, the thin film (109) is deposited onto the substrate and capped off by a domed cover glass (104). While the setup may appear curved to a user, touch sensitivity may be degraded due to the distance between the surface of the glass and the drive and sense electrodes in the thin film.

On the right is a constant wall touch sensor panel that can not only reduce thickness (y) compared to the flat-substrate design, but will keep touch sensitivity at high levels since the distance between the cover glass and thin film is unchanged from a completely flat stackup. Apple's patent allows for this type of process without deformation of the substrate or damage to the drive lines.

The document also notes the technique can be used to form more than one curvature, such as a wave or other surface shape, by employing a second or third forming substrate.

Curve

It is unclear if Apple will use the above-described method in a consumer product, though curved displays seem to be en vogue at the moment. Rival smartphone maker Samsung has released a curved model called the Galaxy Round, while LG recently debuted the LG G Flex that boasts a concave flexible display.

Apple's curved touch surface manufacturing patent was first filed for in 2010 and credits Lili Huang, Seung Jae Hong and John Z. Zhong as its inventors.
post #2 of 34

something tells me that when they do:

   they will by copying

   no matter the price-point they will be the most expensive

post #3 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by revenant View Post
 

something tells me that when they do:

   they will by copying

   no matter the price-point they will be the most expensive

Expensive yes.  Anything beyond that is up to the lawyers.  :P

post #4 of 34
Surely it must be for the wristwatch, would a curved phone screen be that desirable? It might brush against your face when talking.
post #5 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Surely it must be for the wristwatch, would a curved phone screen be that desirable? It might brush against your face when talking.

your phone currently touches your face when talking.  the display turns off so that there is no undesired touch.  that was worked out in 2007.

post #6 of 34
Wearable (watch/not-watch)? Maybe.

I'm imagining a band of three square "widget" apps stacked together around your wrist, and you'd swipe to scroll through more. Tap any one to make it fill the 1x3 screen for actual interactive usage, and pinch the screen to minimize the current app to a widget again. I wouldn't mind having time, weather and map always visible, say. (Even dependent on an iPhone tether it would be still useful. Refresh when the wearable's internal M7 dictates.)

For any device large enough for normal touch gesture usage (drawing, non-thumb typing, screen-swiping) a curve would just feel annoying, and look annoying too when not held straight on. Unless it's so slight they need not bother.

Apple patents lots of stuff they invent, "just in case": so no competitor can later invent the same thing and block Apple from using it if an unexpected need arises.
post #7 of 34
I hate to imagine what the viewing angles on something like that would be. I tried it out last night with my iPod Nano and everything turned all blurry when viewed from the sides
post #8 of 34

Every inch of glass in Apple Campus 2 will be a touchscreen. :p

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Wearable (watch/not-watch)? Maybe.

I'm imagining a band of three square "widget" apps stacked together around your wrist, and you'd swipe to scroll through more. Tap any one to make it fill the 1x3 screen for actual interactive usage, and pinch the screen to minimize the current app to a widget again. I wouldn't mind having time, weather and map always visible, say. (Even dependent on an iPhone tether it would be still useful. Refresh when the wearable's internal M7 dictates.)

For any device large enough for normal touch gesture usage (drawing, non-thumb typing, screen-swiping) a curve would just feel annoying, and look annoying too when not held straight on. Unless it's so slight they need not bother.

Apple patents lots of stuff they invent, "just in case": so no competitor can later invent the same thing and block Apple from using it if an unexpected need arises.

Hmm... Maybe a variety of iBracelets that perform certain simple functions? Some medical, some informational, some for fun?

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #10 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Every inch of glass in Apple Campus 2 will be a touchscreen. 1tongue.gif

And curved!
post #11 of 34
Sounds very watch-related. The OLED expert Apple hired awhile back (I'm forgetting his name) also had expertise in curved displays.
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emes View Post

I hate to imagine what the viewing angles on something like that would be. I tried it out last night with my iPod Nano and everything turned all blurry when viewed from the sides

Well, that's the point of the curved glass, as you look from the side, you're still looking at it straight, so there is no viewing angle issue. The angle wouldn't be too extreme that you'd lose clarity on both inner/outer angles. 

post #13 of 34
I agree that it is about iWatch. I don't think it will be useful, if not distracting, to put it into iPhone.
post #14 of 34
You patent everything you invent. Not just the tech that makes it into future products.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

You patent everything you invent. Not just the tech that makes it into future products.

True but I think the curved glass patent was issued years ago, so you you come up with a better way of making it then you patent the process and not the unpatentable product.
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #16 of 34
How the hell did they get the rights to this when Samsung brought out a press conference about this tech nearly a year ago at the CES (http://www.cesweb.org/) last year. Here's their press conference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArqZtUMFiYE
post #17 of 34
post #18 of 34
Originally Posted by MentalImage View Post
How the hell did they get the rights to this when Samsung brought out a press conference about this tech nearly a year ago

 

Right, because there’s only ONE technology for displays that don’t cover a flat surface¡

 

5 cents per post doesn’t net you much, Sammy.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #19 of 34

The idea i mean to get across is based on the curiosity of how Apple has the right to patent a Technology they were not first to develop. Who did they pay off?

post #20 of 34

explain to me how these products differ between one another then. 

post #21 of 34
Originally Posted by MentalImage View Post
The idea i mean to get across is based on the curiosity of how Apple has the right to patent a Technology they were not first to develop.

 

Right, because there’s only ONE technology for displays that don’t cover a flat surface¡


​No, that’s not an error. I literally just copied and pasted.
 

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #22 of 34
They have patented a process not the curved glass. Sometime the entire invention is in how you do it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MentalImage View Post

How the hell did they get the rights to this when Samsung brought out a press conference about this tech nearly a year ago at the CES (http://www.cesweb.org/) last year. Here's their press conference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArqZtUMFiYE
post #23 of 34
Are you really that dense?

Find me a similar process in use or a patent that describes more or less the same process.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MentalImage View Post

The idea i mean to get across is based on the curiosity of how Apple has the right to patent a Technology they were not first to develop. Who did they pay off?
post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MentalImage View Post

How the hell did they get the rights to this when Samsung brought out a press conference about this tech nearly a year ago at the CES (http://www.cesweb.org/) last year. Here's their press conference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArqZtUMFiYE

If they are using the same method - Samsung would need to show they had developed the technology before the filing date of Nov 5, 2010.

post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MentalImage View Post

How the hell did they get the rights to this when Samsung brought out a press conference about this tech nearly a year ago at the CES (http://www.cesweb.org/) last year. Here's their press conference http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArqZtUMFiYE

It's not the curved glass itself that Apple patented, it's the process In which they make the curved glass touch display. Remember that there's more than one way to skin a cat.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #26 of 34
A convex shaped screen is probably the dumbest idea I've seen, in that, because it doesn't lie flat, you'll have a line of scratches at the apex of the screen, etc. It would make more sense to have a convex shaped device that follows the general shape of the face so that the earpiece stays on your ear, and the mic will be closer to the mouth, so when your busy screaming obscenities at your soon-to-be ex for leaving the toilet seat up in the middle of the night, and you are, unexpectedly, washing your butt in cold toilet water, at least you won't have to pull it away from your ear while you're busy blasting away...

Just a musing...

M.
post #27 of 34
Convex phone screen is asking for scratches when placed face down on richy ritch's granet countertop. It is more usable for iwatch.

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Schlong AAPL

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Schlong AAPL

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post #28 of 34
Originally Posted by ClementineOrange View Post
Convex phone screen is asking for scratches when placed face down on richy ritch's granet countertop.

 

Sure, but… who puts their phone face down anywhere and who has a granite countertop with grit to it?

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #29 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Sure, but… who puts their phone face down anywhere and who has a granite countertop with grit to it?

Shame on me but I did it to an old phone not thinking.  :( Even if a surface is clean and smooth, if the surface is harder than gorrila glass, it will scratch it.  If you look at most phone cases, many have a bevel around the edge that keeps the glass from touching down even if its placed face down.   I wonder what cases will look like for convex screens...   If the display is concave like this bananaphone http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/26/lg-g-flex-hands-on/ then placing it face down will not not cause the display to touch-down, even without a case.

Long FB, AMZN
Schlong AAPL

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Long FB, AMZN
Schlong AAPL

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post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by revenant View Post
 

something tells me that when they do:

   they will by copying

   no matter the price-point they will be the most expensive

Do we really need more "copying" comments?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Right, because there’s only ONE technology for displays that don’t cover a flat surface¡


​No, that’s not an error. I literally just copied and pasted.
 

Actually you would be right on this one. Trying to determine the exact semantics might take a little while, but there is a specific list under "what is claimed is".

post #31 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmm View Post
 

Do we really need more "copying" comments?

 

Actually you would be right on this one. Trying to determine the exact semantics might take a little while, but there is a specific list under "what is claimed is".

i find it ironic that you copied my post for your comment while ignoring the point i was making.

post #32 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Sure, but… who puts their phone face down anywhere and who has a granite countertop with grit to it?

I guess he meant to say, "dirt covered concrete floor".

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #33 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by revenant View Post
 

i find it ironic that you copied my post for your comment while ignoring the point i was making.


Lack of sleep clouds my reading comprehension and judgement, dark side of the force, etc....

 

Now that you point it out, it is amusing.

post #34 of 34
Nice. Over time, hairline scratches right down the middle%u2026 And don't drop that bitch.
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