updated 01:25 pm EDT, Mon May 31, 2010
Hitachi develops tech to cheapen multi-touch
Hitachi during the recent Society for Information Display expo showed a new technology that could lead to less expensive but better quality touchscreens for smartphones. The design separates the touch input layer from its usual protection plate and instead attaches it directly to the LCD, leaving a safe space in between. As it prevents the touch layer from being damaged if the protection plate is scratched, factory defects and other flaws are much less expensive to replace, saving on the costs of wasted screens and lowering the prices of the screens themselves.
Separating touch from the very top layer also has the upside of allowing external changes that weren't possible before, the company said. The top layer could come in other colors or get waterproofing that is still rare in touchscreen handhelds of any kind.
The LCD would be high-quality and would use an IPS (in-plane switching) panel, whose technology inherently brings high color accuracy and wide viewing angles. Hitachi said it has developed a new driving method that would cut the noise from the display in half and provide for more accurate input, including multi-touch.
Hitachi hasn't named any customers for the technique or when it would ship the resulting product. Few handheld devices use IPS displays, and so far the only major customer has been Apple with the iPad. Apple is now thought to be using an IPS display for the iPhone this year, but it's not known if the technology would be ready or if Hitachi could be involved. LG Display may be producing the iPhone LCD separately, but it also has an electronics partnership with Hitachi that could see Hitachi's approach pollinate LG hardware.