Apple Patent Discovered for Cheaper Plastic Touch Panels

According to a newly-published U.S. file patent, Apple may have discovered a way to replace expensive, thicker glass panels by using a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic which would remove the drawbacks associated with the format.

The invention, upon completion, would put transparent, capacitive wires in rows on one panel and link them to columns on another. A resulting multi-touch panel could be made out of the low-cost material without being wider than its glass equivalent, as with existing techniques for plastic that put all the wires on the same panel.

The unit would also cause less interference from long connectors and help separate the touch panel from the rest of the system’s components. According to the filing, Apple would be allowed greater flexibility in designing touchscreen devices where the touch input is separate from other circuitry in the device.

The patent was submitted just two weeks before the release of the iPhone last year and isn’t believed to be in use for the iPhone 3G but could lead to lower-cost iPhone and iPod touch units as well as touch-capable conventional iPods. Apple cites the examples of both a cellphone as well as a portable media player. An example of the latter shows an unusual design which would include a click wheel like the iPod classic and nano but a touch-sensitive display.

[Via Electronista]

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