On June 19, 2008, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s patent application titled Pet-based touch pad which relates to a sensor panel substrate called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The substrate which is now used in Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch may be eventually coming to the iPod Classic according to one of the patent illustrations. Apple’s detailed patent drills down into all aspects of PET based touch sensor panels, and more particularly, to substantially transparent mutual capacitance touch sensor panels having rows and columns formed on separate plastic substrates.
Exemplary Computing System
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 illustrates exemplary computing system 100 operable with space-efficient mutual capacitance touch sensor panel 124 according to embodiments of this invention. The sensor panel can be connected to other components in computing system 100 through connectors integrally formed on the sensor panel, or using flex circuits. Computing system 100 can include one or more panel processors 102, peripherals 104, and panel subsystem 106. The one or more processors 102 can include, for example, ARM968 processors or other processors with similar functionality and capabilities. However, in other embodiments, the panel processor functionality can be implemented instead by dedicated logic such as a state machine. Peripherals 104 can include, but are not limited to, random access memory (RAM) or other types of memory or storage, watchdog timers and the like.
Computing system 100 can also include host processor 128 for receiving outputs from panel processor 102 and performing actions based on the outputs that can include, but are not limited to, moving an object such as a cursor or pointer, scrolling or panning, adjusting control settings, opening a file or document, viewing a menu, making a selection, executing instructions, operating a peripheral device connected to the host device, answering a telephone call, placing a telephone call, terminating a telephone call, changing the volume or audio settings, storing information related to telephone communications such as addresses, frequently dialed numbers, received calls, missed calls, logging onto a computer or a computer network, permitting authorized individuals access to restricted areas of the computer or computer network, loading a user profile associated with a user’s preferred arrangement of the computer desktop, permitting access to web content, launching a particular program, encrypting or decoding a message, and/or the like. Host processor 128 can also perform additional functions that may not be related to panel processing, and can be coupled to program storage 132 and display device 130 such as a liquid crystal display (LCD) for providing a UI to a user of the device.
Devices: iPhone iPod Classic
Apple’s patent FIGS. 3a and 3b illustrate an exemplary mobile telephone (336) and an exemplary digital audio player (338). The audio player figure is clearly illustrating a smaller windowed iPod like Apple’s iPod Classic. The mobile telephone and digital audio player of FIGS. 3a and 3b can advantageously benefit from the substantially transparent mutual capacitive sensor panel of embodiments of the invention because such a sensor panel can be used to form a touch screen with a display behind the sensor panel, and can be made thinner and narrower. Both devices could include the computing system of FIG. 1 (noted above) and a substantially transparent mutual capacitive touch sensor panel (324) according to embodiments of this invention.
Exemplary Mutual Capacitance Touch Sensor Panel
Apple’s patent FIG. 2e below is an exploded perspective view of the layers of another exemplary mutual capacitance touch sensor panel 200 according to embodiments of this invention.
Sensor panel 200 can be assembled using a top layer of optically clear release liner 202, optically clear pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) 204, top PET layer 206 upon which transparent column traces of ITO 208 have been etched, another layer of PSA 210, middle PET layer 230, yet another layer of PSA 232, and bottom PET layer 212 upon which wide row traces of ITO 214 have been etched. Middle PET layer 230 along with PSA 210 and 232 can act as a dielectric between the row and column traces. It should be understood that the materials in FIG. 2 are only exemplary–for example, row and column traces 208 and 214 can be made of material other than ITO, including, but not limited to ATO and copper, and layers 206 and 212 can be made of materials other that PET, including, but not limited to glass and polycarbonate.
Apple lists Steve Porter Hotelling (San Jose, CA) as the sole inventor of the Pet-based touch pad patent. For more details of this patent, click here.
Other Apple Patents Published Today
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Written and researched by Neo.
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