Microsoft's invention for ruggedized displays for future Surface devices has come to light courtesy of the US Patent and Trademark Office. The displays are of course designed to withstand the natural everyday functions that a table in your home would experience – be it laying down a hot cup of coffee or leaning into the table with your elbows while playing a game. Microsoft's patent application reveals that that the range of displays will cover a kiosk styled tabletop product right on through to a full 40 inch display.
Today's Touch Displays are Too Thin & Fragile
Microsoft's patent background starts off by stating that flat screen displays have become both thinner and available in larger screen sizes in recent years. Some of these flat screen displays also include touch and multi-touch sensing capabilities. These thinner, wider, and touch-sensitive displays have been employed in various operating environments, such as horizontally oriented multi-touch tabletop displays, or inclined kiosk displays, etc., in which the displays experience forces on their display surface during use.
Unfortunately, conventional flat screen displays can be easily damaged by such forces resulting in high replacement costs and frustrating downtime during repair. Additionally, forces on such thin displays may cause deflection that result in flashing, pooling, or an uneven surface on the display, resulting in an unsatisfactory user experience.
Microsoft's Ruggedized Display Device
Microsoft's invention relates to developing a ruggedized display device. The ruggedized display device may include an optical stack configured to resist a load up to a load threshold.
According to Microsoft, the optical stack may include an electronic display including a top surface and a bottom surface, and a top protective component coupled to the top surface of the electronic display via a bonding material layer, to shield the electronic display from above. The top protective component and the bonding material layer may collectively have a first thickness of less than 1.0 millimeters.
Adding a Resiliently Deformable Adhesive Layer
Furthermore, the optical stack may include a bottom protective component, positioned below the bottom surface via a resiliently deformable adhesive layer, to support the electronic display from below. The bottom protective component and the adhesive layer may collectively have a second thickness less than 10.0 millimeters.
Ruggedized Tablet or Tabletop Displays
Microsoft's patent FIG. 1A shown below provides us with a schematic representation of one embodiment of a ruggedized display device 10 mounted in a horizontal orientation, for example as a tabletop display device. A load 12, illustrated as a coffee mug, placed on the ruggedized display device exerts a force 13 on a top surface 15 of the ruggedized display device.
Ruggedized Floor Mounted Displays
Microsoft interestingly reveals that other examples of loads on horizontal configurations include people standing on a floor mounted display, leaning on a table top display, etc. A substantial component of the force may be normal to the surface of the ruggedized display device.
Ruggedized Displays for Kiosks & Far Beyond
Microsoft's patent FIG. 1B illustrated above shows us a schematic representation of the ruggedized display device mounted in a tilt orientation, such as may be used in an information kiosk, for example. It will be appreciated that as with the horizontal orientation illustrated in FIG. 1A, mounting the ruggedized display device in a tilt orientation also tends to subject a top surface of the device to forces from a load such as the user's hands or arms, or from objects bumping against it.
Microsoft's Top Protective Component
Microsoft notes in respect to patent FIG. 2, that in order to protect the ruggedized display device from damage caused by excessive forces, the ruggedized display device includes an optical stack (20) housed within a frame (21), with protective layers on a top side and bottom side.
One of the key components of the ruggedized display is a "top protective component (22)" which is coupled to the electronic display via a bonding material layer (24). In other examples, one or more accessory films (26) may be sandwiched between the electronic display and the top protective component.
Microsoft further notes that a relatively thin top protective layer has been found to provide a better user experience for applications involving a stylus. Chemically strengthened glass is provided as one example due to its material properties such as high impact durability (high retained strength after use). Further, the chemically strengthened glass may have a high impact resistance (flexural strength), which in one example is designed to resist up to a 4 kg load, for example. In addition to chemically strengthened glass, it will be appreciated that the top protective component may be comprised of additional or alternative optically clear materials.
Microsoft states that the bonding material layer is comprised of an optically clear material and may range in thickness from about 0.1 millimeters to 1.0 millimeters. The bonding material layer may be applied to a surface of the accessory film of the electronic display. Microsoft further reveals that the bonding material layer may be a Dupont Vertak material or a SONY optically clear adhesive, which are provided as non-limiting examples.
Dealing with Deflection in Larger 20-40" Displays
Microsoft's patent FIG. 3 shown below illustrates deflection in the various layers of the optical stack which may be caused by sag under the influence of gravity, or loading from a force on a top surface of the optical stack.
Generally, the deflection will be more pronounced in larger sized displays. Typically, the ruggedized display device has a large format screen; for example, in one embodiment, the ruggedized display device has a viewable area that diagonally measures 20 inches or greater. In other embodiments, the screen size is 27 inches or greater, and more specifically, it could be as large as 40 inches. As a result of the sag, a curvature (52) may develop on the top and bottom surfaces of the bottom protective component. To counter that, Microsoft states that the bottom protective component is positioned below the electronic display and supports it in a manner that reduces the deflection in the electronic display and layers above it.
Designed to Keep the Heat of the Ruggedized Displays under Control
In a closing note, Microsoft points out one more advantage to the ruggedized display device which is that it is configured to guide light from the backlight (42) to a top surface (15) of the optical stack, and evenly distributes heat transfer from the backlight to the top surface. The thermal insulation of the optical stack helps to evenly distribute the heat so as to avoid hot spots on the top surface that exceed a predetermined threshold, which could adversely affect performance. This is advantageous in particular because some touch applications have difficulty operating correctly when the temperature of the top surface exceeds a predetermined threshold, such as 42 C or 107 F.
Microsoft's patent application was originally filed in Q3 2010.
Whether Microsoft intends to use Windows 8 and its accompanying Metro UI to finally make this a consumer oriented product is unknown at this time. Equally unknown is whether they plan to use these ruggedized displays and their "Surface" technology to take on new comer Perspective Pixels who is invading markets of interest to Microsoft.
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