New capacitive touch nodes from Apple could result in thinner iPhones

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,306member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 41
    djintxdjintx Posts: 454member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 41
    Personally, I'd rather see the phone stay the same size and add a little more battery in the freed-up space.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    iliveriliver Posts: 299member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    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!
  • Reply 6 of 41
    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
  • Reply 7 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 41
    What I'd love to see is a higher resolution capacitive sensor array. Everything else is just secondary at this point.
  • Reply 9 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 41
    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?
  • Reply 12 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    Now take the new thin screen and make it 4"
  • Reply 16 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 41
    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..
  • Reply 18 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    juandljuandl Posts: 228member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 41
    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.
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