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Sharp signals offensives in the display market September 3, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in electronics, Japan.
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Sharp released details of its new touchscreen integrated display, which does not require a touchscreen module overlay.

Unlike traditional touchscreens which are based on resistive or (as in the case of the iPhone) capacitative approaches, the Sharp approach is based on an optical approach, with an array of optical sensors integrated into the LCD display. The Sharp touchscreen display supports multi-touch by default, with individually addressable optical sensors for each pixel on the display (which is a 3.5 inch high resolution half VGA display). The advantage of this optical approach compared to the capacitative approach as employed by the iPhone is that any object can trigger the touchscreen mechanism (an iPhone touchscreen would not respond to input by a gloved finger or the tip of a long nail, for example which makes it less than easy to use for young girls with long manicured nails who tap keys with their nails)

Sharp claims that the aperture ratio for these optical sensor integrated LCD panels is on a par with their existing LCD panels, which means no more light is blocked by the addition of the optical sensor array, maintaining brightness compared to their existing displays. As there is a non-negligible insertion loss associated with a traditional touchscreen overlay which can be avoided with this new approach, better power efficiency can be achieved for the same external brightness performance.

The optical array can also act as a scanner to read barcodes, business cards and the like.

The integrated approach theoretically allows for a thinner module than a traditional LCD + touchscreen overlay approach.

This follows on Sharp’s announcement earlier in the month showing off its vision for LCD flat panel displays in the near future, which featured 50V display with a thickness of just 20-29mm, improved power consumption and lighter weight, clearly stating that Sharp sees the future with LCD, rather than EL technologies (specifically OLED).

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