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Apple Wins Two New High Profile Multi-Touch Related Patents

1 - Apple Wins Two New High Profile Multi-Touch Related Patents
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 14 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our third granted patent report of the day we cover two new high profile multi-touch related patents which cover Front-End Signal Compensation & Method for Forming a Crystalline ITO on top of a Nonconductive Substrate. The primary multi-touch patent presented today was originally filed in the very same month that Steve Jobs first presented us with a peek at their revolutionary smartphone simply called the iPhone back in January 2007.  


Apple Wins a Multi-Touch Patent Relating to Front-End Signal Compensation


Apple has won yet another Multi-Touch patent relating to Front-end signal compensation. The patent relates to the original 2007 iPhone.


Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a touch screen display arrangement, which includes a display and a transparent touch screen positioned in front of display. The display may be configured to display a graphical user interface (GUI) including perhaps a pointer or cursor as well as other information to the user. The Transparent touch screen is an input device that is sensitive to a user's touch, allowing a user to interact with the graphical user interface on the display. In general, touch screen recognizes touch events on a surface of the touch screen and thereafter outputs this information to a host device. The host device may, for example, correspond to a computer such as a desktop, laptop, handheld or tablet computer. The host device interprets the touch event and thereafter performs an action based on the touch event.


In one embodiment, the touch screen is configured to recognize multiple touch events that occur simultaneously at different locations on the touch sensitive surface. That is, the touch screen allows for multiple contact points T1-T4 to be tracked simultaneously. The touch screen generates separate tracking signals S1-S4 for each touch point T1-T4 that occurs on the surface of the touch screen6 at the same time. In one embodiment, the number of recognizable touches may be about fifteen which allows for a user's ten fingers and two palms to be tracked along with three other contacts. The multiple touch events could be used separately or together to perform singular or multiple actions in the host device. Numerous examples of multiple touch events used to control a host device are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,323,846; 6,888,536; 6,677,932; 6,570,557, and co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/015,434; 10/903,964; 11/048,264; 11/038,590; 11/228,758; 11/228,700; 11/228,737; 11/367,749, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.


2 - Apple wins a multi-touch patent relating to front end signal compensation

Apple's patent FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a computer system employing a multi-touch touch screen. The computer system may be, for example, a personal computer system such as a desktop, laptop, tablet, or handheld computer. The computer system could also be a public computer system such as an information kiosk, automated teller machine (ATM), point of sale machine (POS), industrial machine, gaming machine, arcade machine, vending machine, airline e-ticket terminal, restaurant reservation terminal, customer service station, library terminal, learning device, mobile telephone, audio/video player, etc.


Apple's patent FIG. 15 illustrates a top view of an exemplary touch surface panel wherein a top row of the touch surface panel is utilized to generate a compensation signal; Patent FIGS. 16A and 16B illustrate a touch-sensitive capacitive sensing node and a touch-insensitive node that is utilized to generate at least a portion of a compensation signal.


Apple's First Claim: A touch surface device, comprising: a touch-sensitive panel having a sense node configured for providing an output signal indicative of a touch or no-touch condition on the panel, the output signal including a static portion unaffected by a touch and a dynamic portion affected by the touch; a compensation circuit, coupled to the sense node, configured for generating a compensation signal that when summed with the output signal prior to demodulation of the output signal substantially removes the static portion of the output signal so as to generate a compensated output signal; and a sensing circuit coupled to the compensation circuit, the sensing circuit configured for receiving the compensated output signal.


To review Apple's other 40 patent claims and invention detailing, see granted patent 8,049,732. Apple credits Steve Hotelling and Brian Land as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q1 2007 as Steve Jobs was presenting a peek at the original iPhone.


Apple's Second Multi-Touch Patent Win Relates to a Method of forming an Indium Tin Oxide Layer on a Transparent Conductive Material


Apple's documentation describing their invention states that touch screens could include a touch sensor panel, which could be a clear panel with a touch-sensitive surface, and a display device such as a liquid crystal display (LCD) that could be positioned partially or fully behind the panel so that the touch-sensitive surface could cover at least a portion of the viewable area of the display device. Touch screens could allow a user to perform various functions by touching the touch sensor panel using a finger, stylus or other object at a location dictated by a user interface (UI) being displayed by the display device. In general, touch screens could recognize a touch event and the position of the touch event on the touch sensor panel, and the computing system could then interpret the touch event in accordance with the display appearing at the time of the touch event, and thereafter could perform one or more actions based on the touch event.


Mutual capacitance touch sensor panels could be formed from a matrix of drive and sense lines of a substantially transparent conductive material such as ITO, often deposited in rows and columns in horizontal and vertical directions on a substantially transparent substrate. Conventional processes for depositing high-quality, crystalline ITO could require a substrate to be exposed to sustained temperatures as high as 350 degrees C. However, such high-temperature processes may not be suitable for some applications.


Apple's invention relates to forming a crystalline ITO layer on top of a substrate by heating ITO to a high temperature while limiting a temperature increase of the substrate to less than a predetermined temperature. For example, a layer including amorphous ITO may be deposited on top of the substrate, and a surface anneal process may be used to cause the ITO to undergo a phase conversion from amorphous ITO to crystalline ITO. In the surface anneal process, energy is applied in such a way that most of the energy is absorbed by the layer including amorphous ITO, and not the substrate.


For example, the amorphous ITO layer may be exposed to laser light, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, microwave radiation, or other electromagnetic (EM) radiation. The wavelength of the radiation could be chosen such that the amorphous ITO layer absorbs most of the energy of the radiation. In this way, for example, the amorphous ITO layer may be sufficiently heated to undergo the phase conversion to crystalline ITO while the temperature increase of the substrate could be limited to less than a predetermined temperature, since most of the energy is absorbed by the ITO layer. In another example, energy absorption could be focused on the ITO layer by applying an electrical current to the ITO layer. The electrical resistance of the ITO layer causes some of the energy of the electrical current to be absorbed by the ITO layer in the form of heat. Focusing the flow of the electrical current through the ITO layer could allow most of the energy to be absorbed by the amorphous ITO layer, thus heating the ITO to high temperature and causing phase conversion to crystalline ITO, while limiting the temperature increase of the substrate.


In another example, crystalline ITO may be deposited on a bare substrate (i.e., without a layer including amorphous ITO) using a deposition process, such as physical vapor deposition (PVD), that heats ITO to high temperature (e.g., 200-350 degrees C. or higher) while limiting the temperature increase of the substrate to less than a predetermined temperature. For example, the substrate may be passed through a high-temperature ITO deposition chamber quickly, before the temperature of the substrate increases beyond a predetermined threshold temperature, to deposit a thin layer of crystalline ITO. The substrate could be passed through the chamber multiple times until the ITO layer reaches a desired thickness. Between each pass, the substrate may be allowed to cool sufficiently in order to maintain the temperature of the substrate below the predetermined threshold temperature during the next pass.


3 - Apple wins a multi-touch patent relating to a transparent conductive material like ITO

Apple's patent FIG. 14a illustrates an example mobile telephone having a touch sensor panel including a crystalline ITO layer or layers formed; Patent FIG. 14b illustrates an example digital media player having a touch sensor panel including a crystalline ITO layer or layers formed; and Patent FIG. 14c illustrates an example personal computer having a touch sensor panel (trackpad) and/or display including a crystalline ITO layer or layers formed.


Apple's First Claim: A method of forming a crystalline indium tin oxide (ITO) layer on top of a nonconductive substrate, the method comprising: forming a layer including amorphous ITO on top of the substrate; heating the layer including amorphous ITO to a first temperature, the first temperature being sufficient to form crystalline ITO from at least a portion of the amorphous ITO, by applying electrical current to the layer including amorphous ITO, such that a temperature of the substrate remains less than the first temperature during the formation of the crystalline ITO.


To review Apple's other 23 patent claims and invention detailing, see granted patent 8,049,862. Apple credits Lili Huang and John Zhong as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q3 2008.


Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.


TZ - STEVE JOBS - Think Different Forevermore


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MacSurfer, The Guardian UK, Reddit , The Whatterz Daily Liechtenstein, University of Tennessee MacVolPlace, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, UpgradeOSX, TechWatching, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, CBS MarketWatch, Techmeme, BGR, iDownloadBlog, iPhone Devar Arabic, and more




"...and boy have we patented it!"

I'm sure everyone who reads this site knows that Steve Jobs said this when introducing MultiTouch technology in the original iPhone introduction years ago. And now, we can add another datum, which is that Steve Jobs said that he would be willing to spend Apple's entire cash reserve (then $40B) on lawsuits to prevent this technology from being used OR LICENSED by any other company.

I don't know if you remember Android smartphones from 2009, but they used a little thumb wheel for picking items on the screen. Just one year later, Android smartphones sported MultiTouch, which is the very heart of ipad and iphone technology.

Will Tim Cook give in? Or will Steve Job's directives rule, and give no quarter to Android?

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