During Apple's iPhone-5 event in September 2012, Phil Schiller introduced Apple's new, highly advanced "Integrated Touch" display that was one of the upgrades that made the iPhone 5 so much lighter than previous generations. Today, Apple's In-Cell display patent application has come to light. Yet perhaps the real story here is that Apple has clearly stated that this technology could apply to Macs and went out of their way to list the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and even a future iMac. So contrary to Tim Cook's adamant position that Apple has no interest in creating a hybrid MacBook-iPad variant whatsoever, today's patent filing shows that Apple's engineers were obviously given different instructions that contradict Apple's "marketing position." If the new Ultrabook Convertible segment becomes a run-away hit over the next 24 months, it's clear that Apple has a backup plan, just like they did when the 7" tablet segment proved to be the consumer's sweet spot. I personally have my fingers crossed that Apple will surprise us on this front sooner rather than later. Hey, a guy could dream can't he?
Apple's Integrated Touch Display Solution
Embodiments found in Apple's patent application/invention relate to liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and electronic devices incorporating LCDs that employ in-cell and/or on-cell touch sensor components, such as black matrix material within and/or above display pixel cells.
Specifically, rather than employ a separate, overlaid touch sensor panel over an LCD panel, embodiments of the present disclosure may incorporate integrated touch sensor components in-cell within display pixel cells of the LCD or on-cell above the display pixel cells. Among other things, these touch sensor components may include a conductive portion of in-cell black matrix, which also may shield light from one pixel from bleeding into another pixel.
By way of example, an electronic display may include a lower substrate, an upper substrate, and a black matrix material that shields light between pixels of the electronic display. At least a portion of the black matrix material may form all or part of a component of a touch sensor of the electronic display.
Various in-cell layers and/or other structures may form these in-cell touch sensor components. These in-cell touch sensor components may include integrated display panel components serving a secondary role as touch sensor components
Is Apple Hinting at an Ultrabook Convertible Type of Notebook-Tablet?
Apple's patent filing specifically states that suitable electronic devices for In-Cell MultiTouch displays include "a notebook computer or a handheld electronic device." Our cover graphic illustrates patent figure two which clearly points to a MacBook as being a prime target for this technology. In fact Apple goes out their way to actually list a MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and other computers such as the iMac. Can that be any clearer?
Different In-Cell Configuration Possibilities
Apple's patent FIGS. 4-6 noted below depict block diagram exploded views of different layers that may appear in the display. The embodiments of FIGS. 4-6 describe various configurations of in-cell/on-cell touch sensor components. Indeed, FIGS. 4-6 illustrate embodiments having a backlight assembly 60, a lower polarizing layer 62, a lower substrate, or thin film transistor (TFT) glass substrate 64, a thin film transistor (TFT) layer 66, a liquid crystal layer 68, an upper substrate, or top glass substrate 70, black matrix/touch sense electrode 80, touch sensor dielectric layer 88, touch drive electrode 86, and an upper polarizing filter plus high resistance or anti-static film 90.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 illustrated below is a circuit diagram of switching a display circuitry of pixels of an LCD; FIG. 8 is a schematic block diagram illustrating an in-cell touch sensor subsystem of an LCD.
Apple credits Youngbae Park, Cheng Chen, Shih Chang and John Zhong as the inventors of this patent application which was originally filed under serial number 213156 in in Q3 2011.
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.