updated 01:30 pm EST, Tue November 9, 2010
Hitachi capacitve touch will work with gloves
Hitachi has given a demonstration of a new capacitive touchscreen that could allow touch without needing direct finger contact. The surface still uses projection to catch the input but can recognize not only a thin layer in between, such as cloth from a glove, but also completely inanimate points such as a pen or a fingernail, Japan's Nikkei BP learned. Current displays rely on the direct electrical contact from a finger and are often hard to use in cold weather or need specialized pens.
Despite the newer technology, the design is still as responsive and precise as a regular touchscreen with about 10ms to 16ms of lag. It allows 90 percent of light through from the screen underneath and can recognize two or three points with multi-touch software. Initial designs can't go any larger than 10 inches, however.
Samples are already leaving Hitachi for companies that want to use the technology, either just as a touch layer to add to another display or as a fully integrated LCD. Hitachi hasn't named prospective customers but will likely address its own smartphone business. North American companies like Apple routinely use touchscreens from Japanese firms for smartphones and media players, but it's not certain that the next iPhone or other major smartphones will necessarily go the same route.
If used, the approach could help smartphone owners in Canada, Europe, Korea and parts of the US where winter discourages touchscreen use. Southeast Asia may also benefit as the region once used cruder resistive touchscreens almost exclusively to support pen-written text. Capacitive has gained ground in Asia now that finger touch and recognition are intelligent enough, but Hitachi could help them use pens for handwriting without sacrificing ease of use elsewhere. [via Patently Apple]