Sharp have begun mass-producing a new type of display for smartphones and portable devices, the in-cell type touch display. Devices employing this should soon start to emerge – both by Sharp, and by the numerous other smartphone manufacturers who purchase their displays from the Japanese manufacturer.
In existing displays, the touch functionality is enabled using a digitizer, or a separate sheet of microscopic sensors overlaying the LCD that detects taps, slides, presses, etc. and converts them to digital signals that are then sent to the processor, which controls what the display shows. What Sharp have done is embed these touch-sensors in the actual display, alongside the three sub-pixels that make up a pixel on the display: the familiar red + green + blue is now supplemented by a 'touch pixel'. This means that in the very near future – later in 2015 – smartphones will get even thinner and lighter. Touch events should be processed even faster as well – of course, the improvement will be imperceptible to humans.
For the time being, the new display type will utilise Sharp's CG-silicon technology. In their press-release, Sharp say that they are considering production at their Kameyama No. 2 plant, which will allow combining the in-cell touch technology with their IGZO displays, as well as manufacturing a greater array of display sizes to use in tablets and notebook PCs.
There is no information yet about what the first smartphone to use the in-cell touch display tech will be.