Thursday, April 2, 2009

Apple Multi-Touch Touch Screen Patent Vs. Sony CSL SmartSkin

There have been many debates on Apple’s multi-touch touch screen patents. I’m not a patent attorney so I can’t say anything about who owns multi-touch. Rather, I introduce one of pioneers of multi-touch: Sony CSL’s SmartSkin Project. The project was lead by J. Rekimoto and the research work was published at CHI2002. In the below, I compare SmartSkin and possibly corresponding Apple’s patents with illustrations.

Sensing Mechanism



Sony SmartSkin

Apple (US2007/0257890A1)

Data Processing



Sony SmartSkin

Apple (US2006/0097991A1)

Multi-touch Gestures

image image

Sony SmartSkin

Apple (US2006/0026535A1)

Finally, Rekimoto said:

Use of transparent electrodes: A transparent SmartSkin sensor can be obtained by using Indium-Tin Oxide (ITO) or a conductive polymer. This sensor can be mounted in front of a flat panel display or on a rear-projection screen. Because most of today’s flat panel displays rely on active-matrix and transparent electrodes, they can be integrated with SmartSkin electrodes. This possibility suggests that in the future, display devices that will be interactive from the beginning, and will not require “retrofitting” sensor elements into them.


[1] J. Rekimoto, “SmartSkin: an infrastructure for freehand manipulation on interactive surfaces,” CHI '02: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, New York, NY, USA: ACM Press, 2002, pp. 113–120.

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