updated 08:40 am EDT, Fri August 31, 2007
Sharp Multi-Touch Proto
Sharp today revealed a prototype touchscreen display it believes could solve many of the inherent limitations of current models. The current example uses the same 3.5-inch size and 320x480 resolution of the iPhone's Balda-made display but builds optical sensors directly into the LCD surface, detecting changes by the pixel. Input is sensitive enough to allow complex multi-touch gestures such as an iPhone-like "pinch" but can also perform scanning functions; a future device could include a business card reader tool or automatically scan data codes found on packaging, Sharp says.
This system also has the advantage of producing an extremely thin display that measures just 1mm (0.04 inches) deep, either reducing the dimensions of a device or providing room for more components. Its optics-based approach would also permit a protective layer on top of the screen that would guard against scratches and other damage without affecting the sensitivity to touch input or the visual quality, according to the Japanese electronic firm.
Samples of the displays will be available to companies in September and should enter mass-production in spring 2008. No specific companies have been named as having already pre-ordered the units, though Sharp notes that the multi-point interface should be useful for both smartphones and digital cameras in the short term. Future developments should see the screen expand up to 12.1 inches, opening the possibility of notebooks, UMPCs, and other larger devices that use gestures for some or all of their commands. [via Impress]