Apple has won a patent (number 8040326) from the US Patent & Trademark Office for an integrated in-plane switching display and touch sensor. This relates to adding multi-touch functionality to a display without the need of a separate multi-touch panel or layer overlaying the display.
Instead, embodiments of the invention can advantageously utilize existing display circuitry to provide multi-touch functionality while adding relatively little circuitry that is specific to the multi-touch functionality. So, by sharing circuitry for the display and the multi-touch functionalities, embodiments of the invention can be implemented at a lower cost than the alternative of superimposing additional multi-touch related layers onto an existing display panel.
Furthermore, since the display and multi-touch functionality can be implemented on the same circuit, they can be synchronized so that noise resulting from the display functionality does not detrimentally affect the multi-touch functionality and vice versa. The inventors are Steve Porter Hotelling and John Z. Zhong.
— Dennis Sellers