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Capacitive touchscreens tailored for netbooks

Posted: 28 May 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:touchscreen? netbook? LCD?

Ocular Inc. is set to showcase the first capacitive touchscreen to be used on a netbook at the Society for Information Display (SID) International Symposium, Seminar and Exhibition May 31 to June 5 in San Antonio, Texas. The reference design will demonstrate how gesture recognition, made famous by Apple's iPhone, can be enabled on netbook screens of up to 10.4 inches in size.

"We have been getting an unbelievable amount of requests for larger-sized touchscreens ever since the iPhone piqued everybody's interest with the first projective capacitive model," said Chad Harbour, VP of marketing at Ocular.

The company has been manufacturing custom touchscreens at its own fab in China for more than 20 yearsmostly smaller screens used by industrial customers for the control panels on embedded equipment. But the popularity of Apple's iPhone screen has left competing handset makers such as Nokia, Palm, Research in Motion and Samsung scrambling to emulate Apple's success. Market watcher iSuppli Corp. now predicts the worldwide market for touchscreens will nearly double between 2008 and 2013, going from $3.4 billion to $6.4 billion.

Previous-generation touchscreens used flexible polymer films that provided resistive feedback to a controller chip to determine finger location, but the screens were prone to scratching with extended use. Projected capacitive touchscreens cover the LCD panel with glass that guards against scratches and also protects the display from environmental contaminants, such as atmospheric humidity or spilled coffee.

"Our construction keeps touchscreens scratch free as well as enabling gesture recognition to slide, swipe, drag, rotate, zoom in and zoom out," said Harbour. With Ocular's larger-format Crystal Touch displays, he said, netbook vendors can offer "gesture-based interfaces that engage the kind of sensory user experience that the iPhone has prompted users to expect."

OEMs can order Crystal Touch displays as standard products for placing over standard TFT LCDs in sizes of 3.5, 4.3, 5.7, 7.8 and 10.1 inches. Ocular can also integrate a touchscreen with an Ocular-manufactured LCD in a custom-sized display. And in a private suite at SID, the company will show a netbook reference design with a projected capacitive touchscreen, as well as a variety of mobile Internet devices using all sizes and types of touchscreens.

Ocular said pricing for its standard add-on touchscreen modules begins at $22.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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