RIM patents new touchscreen hybrid

rim-blackberry-logoResearch in Motion (RIM), makers of the popular BlackBerry devices, have just patented a design for a touch sensitive screen that is a hybrid of resistive and capacitive technologies. The two technologies operate on different principles and while the capacitive technology is generally favoured, they both have their individual benefits.

The resistive technology is older than capacitive, and is more commonly found on touch screen devices. The resistive technology operates through the use of pressure sensors, responding to the event of pressure being placed on the screen. The capacitive technology, found on handsets like the Apple iPhone, instead respond to electrical impulses such as the electricity flowing from the end of a finger. While capacitive offers many benefits it does require the touching implement to be electrically charged excluding the use of styluses, and limiting it generally to fingers. Although this is fine for many it is highly unpopular in Asia, and it also leads to the inevitable fingerprint marks on the screen.

One of the benefits of using a stylus is that it offers a lot more precision than a fat finger end that can often result in the pressing of the wrong things on smaller displays. Traditional resistive screens however, are not capable of the multi-touch functionality that capacitive allows. Multi-touch can make the interface of a phone much more adaptable and provides a great deal more functionality. The capacitive-resistive hybrid patented by RIM will hopefully combine the best of both technologies to create more flexibility and user choice in terms of operating their phone.

BlackBerry to date have only released on touchscreen device onto the market and so this move was unexpected from them. It may however be an indication of their intention to move further into the touchscreen market with future handsets, and this patent may just give them a cutting edge in the market.

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