December 11, 2013
Apple Aims To Get Ahead Of The Curve
Bryan P. Carpender for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded 34 new patents for Apple Inc. this week, including one of particular interest: a patent covering “curved touch sensors,” according to Apple Insider.
Rumors have abounded that Apple has been experimenting with curved iPhone screens, so this patent seems to grant some credence to those rumors, possibly setting the stage for innovations in future iPhones, iPads and other gadgets.
Both LG and Samsung have already released smartphones featuring curved screens, but this new technique is exclusive to Apple. The newly granted patent details a new way of manufacturing a curved touch surface that produces accurate commands without the typical deficiencies and deformations from substrate warping.
While most current sensor displays are so thin that their components can often sustain damage during the fabrication process, Apple seems to have found a solution, going into further detail: “A method of forming a curved touch surface is disclosed. The method can include depositing and patterning a conductive thin film on a flexible substrate to form at least one touch sensor pattern, while the flexible substrate is in a flat state. According to certain embodiments, the method can include supporting the flexible substrate in the flat state on at least one curved forming substrate having a predetermined curvature; and performing an anneal process, or an anneal-like high-heat process, on the conductive thin film, wherein the anneal process can cause the flexible substrate to conform to the predetermined curvature of the at least one curved forming substrate. According to an embodiment, the curved forming substrate can include a first forming substrate having a first predetermined curvature and a second forming substrate having a second predetermined curvature complementing the first predetermined curvature.”
Whether or not this new technology could result in an iPhone or iPad with a curved touch screen is anybody’s guess. It would certainly be a major departure from the clean lines and aesthetic of the iconic iPhone designs of recent years. We all know that change is necessary for evolution, and Apple is nothing if not constantly evolving.
What is obvious is that people are intrigued and speculation is already swirling about the fact that such a curved touch screen technology could soon be put to good use in new iDevices – for example, Apple’s long-rumored iWatch, reports Devindra Hardawar for VentureBeat. In March of this year, Patently Apple reported that the USPTO published one of Apple’s patent applications, which featured a future iPhone design with a wraparound display.
This design could easily apply to a wristband communication device. A curved glass display could allow for a better fit on a user’s wrist, which could give Apple a slight edge, should it finally decide to get into the smart watch game.
Over the past few years, the functionality of personal electronic devices has become equally important to consumers. It’s not enough to offer a gadget that looks cool, futuristic and leading edge. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the device needs to pack as much functionality as possible into a comparatively small package.
As these personal devices evolve at an ever more rapid pace, so does the desire to have the newest, freshest and sleekest device; one that will allow users to connect with their social network, communicate with their loved ones and have their electronic media close at hand – and touch screen controls are in high demand.
With the competition to provide such devices being more heated than ever, Apple’s latest patent might help them get ahead of the curve.