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.