updated 02:15 pm EST, Thu December 20, 2007
Sony Optical Multi-Touch
Sony Japan on Thursday unveiled what it says is a solution to the current problems of multi-touch displays. By using a low-temperature polysilicon LCD, the company has successfully interwoven optical sensors into the display surface, creating an exceptionally thin surface that can still respond to visual cues for control, including inorganic devices such as a stylus. This represents a major improvement over current hardware, Sony says. Other multi-touch screens currently require a multi-layer technique that increases the thickness of the display and leaves the input open to quality deterioration if the layers become loose.
The integration improves over capacitive sensor touchscreens by recognizing input from more than fingers but also represents an upgrade over earlier optical sensor designs, according to the company: the closeness of the optics to the outer surface lets it better factor outside lighting into the input and prevents unintentionally jerky responses. The iPhone and iPod touch both use capacitive sensors.
The prototype display produces a 640x480 resolution on a 3.5-inch screen and with a full 16.7 million colors. Sony notes that a refined version of the current display or different models could be extended to allow the polysilicon LCD's use with cellphones, media players, consoles, and other portable devices. No timetable is ready for shipping products, though commercial versions will be ready "shortly," the company says.