Just this year, we have seen a virtual explosion of touch panel growth fueled by the world’s seemingly insatiable appetite for touch-enabled devices. It is hard to say whether this growth will be tempered or continue amidst the promise of even greater adoption of mobility devices and invention of new “must have” products. In either case, touch technology is now a permanent member of the flat panel display family.
I marvel at how the industry has evolved over the past few years. Three years ago, I had the opportunity to take a position as Head of our Web Products Group in Germany (the group that makes our roll-to-roll vacuum deposition tools). At that time we strengthened our focus on Flexible Electronics, looking at opportunities in flexible solar, displays, printed circuit boards and several different transparent conductor-based applications including touch screen elements. Ironically, the team had already been addressing this market for years, with sales of roll-to-roll sputtering tools for indium tin oxide (ITO) since the early 1980s, but it had remained relatively small and stable due to modest...
Dow Jones recently reported on the future of tablet and smartphone displays. As the leading equipment supplier to the display industry, Applied Materials was called on to lend comment to the trends and technologies that will be driving the industry in the coming years.
The 2002 hit movie, Minority Report is the ultimate precursor for the use of touch panel displays today. As you may remember, Tom Cruise’s character is being blamed for a pre-crime that he has not yet committed and manages to stay one step ahead of the police using a multitude of touch panel displays as a control center dashboard with information at the touch of a finger.
Today’s reality is not so far removed from this promise of touchscreen technology. Smart phones and tablet PCs are the most prolific applications for touch panel today. A touch interface allows one to interact directly with a display without the use of a keyboard or mouse and is an enabling technology for the mobile display market which will have sales of around 60 million tablets and 500 million smartphones out of a total of close to 1.7 billion mobile phones in 2011 according to published reports. Almost all tablets and smartphones have touch displays, and touch panel penetration in conventional mobile phones will surpass 50% by 2014.