On January 7, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the next chapters for Apple's multi-touch screen technology. Apple's patent generally relates to displays having pixels that include capacitive elements, and more particularly to displays in which capacitive elements of the pixels that form part of the display system that generates an image on the display also form part of a touch sensing system that senses touch events on or near the display. Additionally, the patent focuses on displays including pixels with dual-function capacitive elements that translate into fewer moving parts and/or processor steps that could deliver thinner, brighter displays. While Apple's patent, in general, could only be truly appreciated by someone with a Ph. D in this particular discipline, we mere mortals are able to see that Apple will use this next generation touch screen technology on their iPhone, iPod touch and yes, a touch screen MacBook or future MacBook-Tablet. Apple's new displays will in part, utilize LTPS screen technology which is said to be lightning fast.
Dual-Function Capacitive Elements
Apple's patent FIG. 6A illustrates a partial view of an example touch screen having regions of pixels with dual-function capacitive elements that operate as LCD elements and as touch sensors according to embodiments of the invention.
Touch Screen with Metal Traces for Key Devices
Apple's patent FIG. 6B shown below illustrates a partial view of example touch screen including metal traces running in the border areas of the touch screen according to embodiments of the invention. The new touch screen technology that includes pixels with dual-function capacitive elements is earmarked for Apple's iPhone, other media players, Apple's MacBook trackpad and display as shown in FIGS. 62A, B and C.
In-Plane Switching LCD using Low Temperature Polycrystalline Silicon
Apple's patent FIG. 33 shown below illustrates a side view of a pixel in the example (IPS) in-plane switching LCD display using (LTPS) low temperature polycrystalline silicon according to embodiments of the invention. Update: Apple's iPad introduced on January 27, 2010 uses IPS technology.
According to Wikipedia, in-plane switching was developed by Hitachi Ltd. in 1996 to improve on the poor viewing angle and the poor colour reproduction of TN panels at that time. The magic comes into play when you add LTPS. According to LG, LTPS provides more than a 100 times faster TFT mobility than the amorphous silicon (a-Si) technology.
Apple credits Steve Hotelling, Shih Chang, Lili Huang and John Zhong as the inventors of patent application 20100001973, originally filed in Q3 2008.
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