Apple has received a patent for curved touchscreens and displays, according to AppleInsider, which describes a system for making curved touch sensitive glass. The method patented by Apple is designed to create a curved screen surface that remains touch sensitive without deforming or distorting the image the display would produce, and would be able to be used in displays, touch-sensitive mice (like the current Magic Mouse) touch pads and other devices.
Apple’s tech differs from some existing curved glass techniques because often the substrate that adds touch sensitivity to a device is flat, regardless of whether the glass panel that covers it is curved. As a result, touch sensitivity suffers, since sometimes a person’s finger is actually further away from the touch panel than it might appear, or than in a traditional, non-curved device.
The patent includes a method for a screen with variations in the curvature of the surface, too. Specifically, it lays out what looks like a series of bubbles, which you could see used as a means for creating a raised pattern over a software keyboard, for instance. This could be handy in creating touch-sensitive button interfaces on things like displays for controlling things like brightness and volume, or for adding more obvious input methods to something like a touch mouse without swaying from the all-touch design.
Apple hasn’t made any overt moves to create curved glass mobile devices like some of its competitors including LG and Samsung, but it is building up some buzz around screens that don’t conform to normal designs. A Bloomberg report from November even went so far as to suggest the company was working on a curved glass iPhone for release in late 2014, and that it was also building better touch input for future devices. A patent for better touchscreen designs for curved glass devices definitely lines up with those reports.
Curved glass may be a fad, but it’s not yet clear what the merits of such a tech will be in terms of scratching a consumer itch. Still, it’s obviously an area worth watching, given that everyone and their brother seems to be putting at least R&D spend into making those next-gen displays more than just flat.
Curved iPhone render courtesy Ciccarese Design.