The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded Apple a patent, describing a means of manufacturing curved touchscreens.
The patent, which was filed back in November 2010, may lend credibility to the rumors that Apple is working on an iWatch with curved glass display to fit users’ wrists, as reported earlier this year.
During the Apple vs. Samsung patent trial, Apple industrial designers revealed that the company had a “strong interest” in featuring a curved glass display for its iPhone as far back as the first generation model — although it abandoned the idea at the time for reasons of cost.
For those fluent in tech patent speak, here’s what the recent patent actually covers:
“The method can 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. According to certain embodiments, the method can include supporting the flexible substrate in the flat state on at least one curved forming substrate having a predetermined curvature; and performing an anneal process, or an anneal-like high-heat process, on the conductive thin film, wherein the anneal process can cause the flexible substrate to conform to the predetermined curvature of the at least one curved forming substrate. According to an embodiment, the curved forming substrate can include a first forming substrate having a first predetermined curvature and a second forming substrate having a second predetermined curvature complementing the first predetermined curvature.”
It should be noted that as with all Apple patents, of course, this could end up meaning everything or nothing. While we might all be in for curved iPhones and iWatches in 2014, the patent could simply be a way of ensuring competitors don’t steal the specific idea, or else to obfuscate what Apple is actually doing.
However, coming shortly after the Samsung Galaxy Round and the LG G Flex — the first two consumer smartphones to feature curved displays, albeit plastic ones — maybe this has a better chance of materializing than most.
In the meantime, lack of knowledge about Apple’s specific plans has never previously been enough to stop fans from speculating about the possibilities.Related