Apple submits a lot of patent requests. Some of them make it into reality and become important additions to the iOS landscape. Others sit in obscurity, never to see the light of day unless someone finds a use for the patented technology. Apple has also been known to be working with companies on technology that would allow them to use curved glass for their various devices. In February, the New York Times claimed that Apple was working on “wrist-like” devices made of curved glass.
Today, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded a patent to Apple for “a method of forming a curved touch surface,” which may mean that Apple really is working on the rumored iWatch.
The patent, titled “Curved touch sensor,” refers to a method of forming a curved touch surface that includes “depositing and patterning a conductive thin film on a flexible substrate to form at least one touch sensor pattern, while the flexible substrate is in a flat state.”
According to the patent, one problem that arises with traditional flat touch screens is that, because the sensor panels are so thin, they can be predisposed to damages, like warping, during the fabrication process.
Apple proposes with this patent the possibility of applying a conductive thin film over the substrate while it is flat and then joining the two together to make a curved, forming substrate. The process would include “depositing and patterning a conductive thin film on a flexible substrate to form at least one touch sensor pattern, while the flexible substrate is in a flat state.”
Apple’s patent appears to be for creating a convex rounded touch sensor. While the patent is vague, it does refer to curved touch sensors. The curved mobile device is no longer just a myth. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Round in Korea. The glass has a noticeable concave curve to it.
If Apple is patenting curved display technology, it is not likely they are planning to copycat Samsung. Instead, it is possible that the rumored iWatch is still being developed. Apple may have plans to create a small screen device with a slight convex curve so that it can sit comfortably on your arm and mold to your body.
If this patent does not end up on the Island of Misfit Toys, there is a chance that we will see this technology within the next few years.