Apple applies for patent to keep screens fingerprint-less

Apple files a patent application on "Direct Liquid Vaporization for Oleophobic Coatings" to keep electronic device screens clean.

Screenshot by Boonsri Dickinson/CNET

If messy fingerprints have you wiping your iPhone, iPod, or iPad screen on your shirtsleeve or pant leg several times a day, well, Apple has an app(lication) for that--a patent application, to be precise.

The trick is not to ask customers to wash their hands before touching the screen. Rather, it involves coating the screens of electronic devices with an oil-resistant material called oleophobic, according to a patent application that recently surfaced on Patently Apple.

The liquid coating is applied using a method called Physical Vapor Desposition ("PVD"). The technique is used to deposit thin films of vaporized material onto the surface. In this case, the coating is applied in liquid form inside of a bottle that is pressurized with inert gas, so that it can be sprayed onto the surface.

Rumors has it, the fingerprint-less surface might be a feature on the new iPhone 5. But the surface coating isn't entirely novel. The latest patent application describes an improved process and a more efficient one. Apple has already put the oil-resistant material onto surfaces of the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or an iPad. Unfortunately, CNET previously reported that the coating begins to wear off after a while.

Screenshot by Boonsri Dickinson/CNET

Perhaps the iPhone 5 will have this patent technology all over it.

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