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.