updated 01:24 pm EDT, Thu May 23, 2013
Touch panel patent could lead to thinner iOS devices, Apple smartwatch
Apple has been granted 26 new patents this week, two of which could end up being used in a future iteration of the iPhone. The filings from the US Patent and Trademark Office show Apple as owning patents for a push-to-talk (PTT) system, as well as one for a double-sided touch panel that could help the company make an even thinner smartphone.
Patent 8,447,381 for a "Push-to-talk telecommunications system utilizing a voice-over-IP network" builds upon existing methods for a digital two-way radio, according to Apple Insider, with the patent employing a "wireless packet data telecommunications network." Transmissions would go through a packet data network that uses at least one mobile station, a radio access network, a server used for location, a registrar, a database server, and a PTT server in order to connect PTT users.
Currently, a number of apps for iOS and other platforms do provide PTT communications, but the patent suggests that Apple may have looked at how it could employ PTT in the iPhone, but has yet to do so.
The patent for a "Double-sided touch sensitive panel and flex circuit bonding," patent number 8,446,386, is for the creation of a sensor that uses two substrates printed onto two different sides of a thin dielectric material, at a 90-degree angle to each other.
Such a design of a touch panel could be thinner than existing versions, allowing for thinner iPhones in future, or possibly even using it in conjunction with another patent, published in February, which could allow for the creation of a smartwatch with a flexible display. The touch panel patent could theoretically be used with the flexible screen, along with its flex circuit bonding, in order to allow the wrap-around screen to be touch sensitive.
Patents for "gesture control of multimedia editing applications," "techniques for versioning file systems," and a "touch pad for handheld device" were also granted to Apple.