8 Comments

Summary:

Apple has been awarded a patent for a new, more efficient way to manufacture curved touch displays.

Apple curved display patent
photo: USPTO

If you’re still busy trying to wrap your head around a 12.9-inch iPad, how does a curved screen iPhone sound? That might be where Apple is headed, according to a new patent awarded to the company on Tuesday for a “curved touch sensor.” First noticed by Apple Insider, the patent describes curved screen technology that could potentially make its way into phones, tablets, monitors and mice, among other devices.

The patent details a manufacturing process that would allow Apple to produce a curved touch screen without worrying about deformation in the substrate. According to the patent:

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.

So, rather than use flat LCD screen on the bottom with curved glass on top, as some devices have done to provide the illusion of the curve, this technique would allow Apple to produce a thinner screen with a genuine curve.

I’ve had an LG G Flex on my hands for a few days now. And while I was admittedly skeptical about the benefits of a curved display at first, it really does improve viewing angles. I’m also pretty sure that the Flex’s curve would make the phone much better able to fit in a back pocket – if only the 6-inch device weren’t so big.

That said, simply being awarded a patent doesn’t mean that Apple is planning to introduce a full lineup of curved screen devices anytime soon, if ever. But if it can further prove that a curved display provides substantial benefits for touch-based devices, I’m much more open to the idea than I used to be.

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  1. Could this just be for the home button? There has been buzz about Apple possibly using that as a control, like brushing it to scroll. I tend to keep my iPhone in my shirt pocket and my guess is that I don’t want it to have a curved body; if so, I would have to look at it before considering it.

    I’d rather Apple moved back toward a 4×3 form factor instead of 16×9, because 16×9 is only best for HD video and that is not my normal use case. Reading and games are better served by 4×3 and I’d like to see the next iPhone keep its current length while becoming wider, which my shirt pocket has plenty of room for.

  2. you are being quite liberal with the term “new”. Considering that there are already curved touchscreens on the market.

  3. Stephane Beladaci Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    This is so funny! Apple hired Adobe’s CTO Kevin Lynch as VP Technology and I heard from a reliable source that he was hired to develop a hush hush touch watch product, this patent is one more indication it might be true. Well, we know where they got the idea from, check out this 3 year old video from Adobe for Flash: Adobe Open Source Project Social Networking http://vimeo.com/7351777

  4. It was either Samsung or LG that releases this LAST MONTH… not a patent, the actual phone…

    1. Just because a low life copy cat rip off outfit like Samsung has a ‘product’ out, that literally no one is buying, doesn’t mean Apple’s won’t be better–this much we ALL should know by now. What was that idiotic Samsung ‘smart’ watch that came out? Just a ploy to get you goons to think they are innovative? They are a total copy outfit, with no original ideas whatsoever. And if Apple comes with a curved screen, it won’t be anything like what Samsung is ‘innovating’ for their mentally deficient users.

      1. You are not helping Apple’s case a bit, my dear! What you are saying exhibit ignorance, you should tune down your attitude and check this out: http://www.whiteboardmag.com/judge-to-apple-say-sorry-like-you-mean-it, have you also heard Wozniak saying he believes Apple did not even have a case to start with when commenting on its 1 billion victory in its backyard in America, where it is a national cash cow? Have you heard of Apple devices getting banned in the US for infringing on Samsung patents, a ban that was vetoed by the US President making a fool of himself to the eyes of the international community, probably because most edge funds in America, your retirement plan included if you have one, are partially dependant on the cash cow? Come, don’t make a fool of yourself too. I was in the court in San Jose for the trial, and trust me Samsung spend much more money on innovation that Apple ever did.

      2. Haha, thanks for highlighting your unabated, brainwashed Apple worshipping mindset! You surely are the type of person to buy a “innovative,” “magical” polished turd as long as it was emblazoned with an Apple logo.

        Contrary to your ill-informed rantings, it is actually Apple product users that are mentally deficient – after all, every single one of their products are dumbed down so much to specifically cater for preschoolers, the elderly, and the intellectually challenged. I’ve yet to encounter an Apple product user with an IQ any higher than that of a lobotomised chimpanzee.

  5. I don’t think this has anything to do with a phone or tablet. I believe this is solely for the upcoming iWatch. Makes sense for a curved display patent. Then Apple will sue the competitors who have already brought wearable tech to market in typical Apple fashion.

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