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Apple Granted Patent for 'In-Cell' Touchscreen Display Concepts

A newly-published Apple patent (via AppleInsider) reveals Apple's interest in so-called "in-cell" touchscreen technologies that have been rumored to be appearing in the next-generation iPhone. Adoption of in-cell technology, which integrates the touch sensors directly into the display rather than using a separate layer, is said to be one of the primary advances Apple is using to reduce the thickness of the iPhone to just 7.6 mm from the current 9.3 mm thickness.

The patent, which was originally filed for in June 2007 before the original iPhone even went on sale and is based on a provisional patent application dating all the way back to June 2006, highlights Apple's goals of reducing device size, complexity, and manufacturing costs just as it was attempting to revolutionize the mobile phone industry. The abstract begins:
Disclosed herein are liquid-crystal display (LCD) touch screens that integrate the touch sensing elements with the display circuitry. The integration may take a variety of forms. Touch sensing elements can be completely implemented within the LCD stackup but outside the not between the color filter plate and the array plate. Alternatively, some touch sensing elements can be between the color filter and array plates with other touch sensing elements not between the plates.

One of a number of Apple-proposed concepts for in-cell touchscreens

Apple's extensive patent with 85 claims and 107 different figures covers a host of concepts for how touch sensors could be integrated into LCD panels, including both the overall ideas as well as manufacturing processes that could be used to build the displays.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tag: patent
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 8 (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

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72 months ago
I bet Steve allowed this. :D
Rating: 19 Votes
72 months ago
I piece of me dies every time Apple gets a new patent, you can guarantee they will abuse it.
Rating: 9 Votes
72 months ago

I piece of me dies every time Apple gets a new patent, you can guarantee they will abuse it.

A piece of me dies every time someone makes an inane comment like this. Without patents, R&D has no purpose. Why spend money to develop something that's going to put you ahead of your competitors if they can just copy it without the R&D cost? You either license it out (FRAND) or you don't (with the former being more economical), which is your choice since you're the inventor of the IP and spent money to develop it. Like it or not IP defense and protection is the cornerstone of rewarding innovation, and Apple (or any other "patent troll") defending their IP is within their legal right. I would hardly consider it "abuse," especially if the patent was awarded in the first place and the appropriate licensing conditions were offered (which they probably were).
Rating: 8 Votes
72 months ago

All of this research just to make it thinner, and I don't care about the thickness.

I don't know, to me that picture shown in the Patent makes the screen look thicker. Just look at how big it looks compared to the finger. :p
Rating: 7 Votes
72 months ago
Eventually the iPhone will be just a thin unbreakable glass with 5mm
Rating: 6 Votes
72 months ago
People saying "NEEDZ BIGGER BATTERY!11!!!" need to relax, this isn't an Android phone. Surely they are tuning iOS 6 to be better than iOS 5, and all of the new iPhone components point towards not only newer, faster and overall better technology, but also efficiency. Making the battery bigger doesn't fix the problem, it just slows it down. I would trust Apple is fixing the problem by making a more efficient and smarter phone.
Rating: 5 Votes
72 months ago

I wish Apple would cut it out already with making it thinner. You'd think they won't be satisfied till the iPhone is paper-thin... It's bordering on too thin at this point. Give me a bigger battery, more RAM, a more powerful GPU or CPU and I'd be happy. I don't need a thinner device.

If you want it thicker, you can do that with a protective case. It could even include a supplemental battery.

If they make it thick for you, there would be no way for me to be satisfied, because I want it thin.

So I'm glad Apple is designing products for me and not for you.
Rating: 5 Votes
72 months ago

This is just way too scientific for me to understand, could someone elaborate on the potentials of this technology? ( Other than the thinness of the phone)

Former capacitive touch engineer here.

The In-Cell technology primary selling factor not only because it is thin but because it allows for other cost cutting measures.

In current application you have a LCD display with a PMMA (plastic) or Glass layer on top, these tend to be about 1mm thick. This layer is where the ITO (sensor) layer of the screen is built. The reason why this layer was implemented was because the LCD screen brought too much noise to the capacitive levels causing false fingers to occur.

So without having to include this glass / PMMA plastic layer a few bucks are cut from the total cost of the phone. This also removes a few ounces of weight if it is glass. Up till now this hasn't been done because noise mitigation algorithms were good enough to mitigate LCD noise in all situations.

Aside from a thinner phone the only other difference is you might see would be the LCD layer moved up closer to the top lens glass.
Rating: 5 Votes
72 months ago
why not used before ?

Will this cause the phone to be more responsive? And if so, why didn't they do this a long time ago since the patent was origniall filed in 2006?

Because if you develop something new the people working on it need to be paid. It takes years - and of 50 every idea's only one will work. This is what is called R+D (research and development).

And once you prove it works, you have to find a way to mass-produce it; and produce it in a way that the resulting product will work too. Because if your keyboard keys get stuck (bad example, yes) you will turn it in for a refund. This is called RISK.

Now Samsung so far, has not done much of R+D, because it copied all "good" idea's of Apple (they were just too good, they were "obvious"- once Apple had done the R+D). And as Samsung is the manufacturer for Apple, they did not have much risk either. Now if it would be easy, and without risk (i.e. money wasted) - why has nobody else come up with this before ? Microsoft ? DELL ? ACER ?
Rating: 5 Votes
72 months ago

if thinness comes at the expense of battery juice, i don't like it.


only 2 things come of this: thinness and brighter screen

nothing else.

We already know the battery is essentially the same size as the last one if the leak is true. We also likely know this battery has a new chemistry due to 3.8V nominal voltage. It must be better in some way for Apple to switch to it.

We also know the CPU is rumored to be an A5 variant, which likely is 32nm and better on power than the A5 (to make room for LTE).

Screen could also be lower power due to these advancements, especially if they use IGZO.

Seems highly likely battery life will stay constant or improve a bit (I would like a return to iphone 4 battery levels personally).
Rating: 4 Votes

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