Users of the iPhone could eventually see thinner and lighter displays, if Apple follows through on a patent it just received.
Awarded to Apple today, the newly patented LCD screen technology integrates the touch sensors with the actual display circuits, reducing the space taken up by the screen. The new technology is an improvement over the current technique, which places the touch sensors on top of the screen and naturally leads to a thicker display.
Dubbed simply "Touch screen liquid crystal display," the patent suggests a variety of ways to integrate the various components. In one scenario, the touch-screen elements can be placed between the display's color filter and array plates, which means the design could support both conventional LCDs as well as IPS (in-plane-switching) screens.
"By integrating the layered structure of an LCD and a touch sensor, a variety of benefits can be achieved," Apple explained in the patent filing. "This can permit some layers to be eliminated, which can reduce cost and thickness of the touch screen LCD, as well as simplify manufacturing."
The technology would be of the greatest benefit to the iPhone and other mobile gadgets, but it could wend its way into other types of devices.
"The principles described herein may be used to devise input devices for a variety of electronic devices and computer systems," Apple added in the filing. "These electronic devices and computer systems may be any of a variety of types including desktop computers, notebook computers, tablet computers, handheld computers, personal digital assistants, media players, mobile telephones, and the like."