Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Apple patent hints at future devices with curved displays

Apple patent hints at future devices with curved displays

Apple patent hints at future devices with curved displays

Flat touchscreen iOS devices and Mac displays could be a thing of the past one day now that Apple has been awarded a patent for a touch sensor capable of being manufactured on a curve.

AppleInsider reported today that a new patent awarded to Apple from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office paves the way for the iPhone 5S maker to start manufacturing devices with curved displays.

U.S. Patent No. 8,603,574 specifically outlines a "curved touch sensor" capable of producing touchscreen surfaces capable of being wrapped across the front of a device without manufacturing defects such as substrate warping or deformation.

First filed in 2010, the curved touch sensor patent specifically covers displays, touch pads and touch mice, with the invention credited to Lili Huang, Seung Jae Hong and John Z. Zhong.

Curvy roadmap ahead?

In that original patent filing, Apple noted that current methods for creating touch panels using thin-film conductors aren't ideal for curved displays, since they require lower temperatures to avoid being damaged.

Display manufacturers prefer to employ higher temperatures "for added thin film resistiveness and enhanced optical properties," according to the report.

Apple's process dodges this issue by depositing a conductive thin film over a flexible substrate while it's still flat, then adding the substrate package and applying heat to the completed stackup.

The complicated process doesn't necessarily mean Apple will adopt this method for future iOS or Mac products, so current smartphones with curved displays such as the LG G Flex appear to be safe for now.


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