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Apple is considering the Application of a new Protective Display Finish to Macs and iDevices that use Apple Pencil



Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to displays having a substrate with a visually imperceptible texture that provides tactile sensations varying with an object contacting the surface. Apple is considering applying a new finish on displays for Macs and iDevices that acts as an added protection layer with a different texture to the glass. The glass may feel smooth to the touch but slightly rougher with a little drag when using it with an Apple Pencil. Whether the slight drag will make the Apple Pencil feel more like writing on paper is never really explored.


In Apple's patent background they note that many electronic devices use an optically clear substrate, such as glass, sapphire or plastic, as a protective cover for a display device, a portion of a device housing, a camera lens or cover, and so on. These optically clear substrates are processed or otherwise manufactured to have a particular type of surface finish.


For example, a matte surface finish diffuses ambient light. However, the brightness, contrast and/or other characteristic of the image output by the display device may be negatively affected by such a surface finish.


Apple's invention relates to a substrate having a textured surface (hereinafter referred to as the "textured substrate"). The texture of the textured substrate is visually imperceptible. As such, the textured substrate may be used as a protective cover for a display device of an electronic device without negatively affecting the quality of the images that are output on the display device.



In addition to being visually imperceptible, the texture on the textured substrate provides different tactile sensations to a user depending on the type of object that is placed on or otherwise contacts the textured substrate – as in a finger or Apple Pencil.


Smooth Touch for Fingers: Apple notes in patent FIG. 3B, that although the textured substrate #300 includes many peaks #310 and valleys #320, the relatively large surface area of the user's finger #350, when compared to the spacing between the peaks and valleys, causes the finger to contact multiples peaks simultaneously. Because multiple peaks are contacted simultaneously, any pressure that may be applied by the peaks to the user's finger is spread out along the entire contact surface area of the finger. As a result, the textured substrate may feel smooth as the user interacts with the textured substrate.


Rougher Touch with Apple Pencil: In Apple's patent FIG. 3C, a user may also contact the surface of the textured substrate with an Apple Pencil. The textured substrate may exhibit a second coefficient of friction that is different from the first coefficient of friction. As a result, the user may perceive a second tactile sensation that is different from the first tactile sensation. In one example, the tactile sensation may be a rough sensation or otherwise feel like the Apple Pencil has an increased drag when compared to the drag exhibited by the user's finger.


Apple's patent application 20170300114 was filed back in Q2 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


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