Apple may hinder wide deployment of multi-touchscreen technologies as it owns one of the patents involved, according to the analysts at iSuppli.

Apple has adopted multi-touch technology within its iPhone. Such technology is more responsive than single touch, and is capable of recognising multiple simultaneous touches - which is why iPhone users will be able to pinch an area of their screen to zoom into an image, for example.

However, Apple owns one of the essential multi-touch patents, and at present: "It’s unclear whether Apple will be willing to accept royalty payments in exchange for use of the technology," the analysts said.

The market for multi-touch touch screens is set to grow to $433.1 million in 2012, rising at 30.8 per cent per year from $112.9 million in 2007.

However that game plays out, touchscreen technologies are set for major growth, with revenues set to double by 2012, iSuppli claims.

Apple's iPhone has placed touchscreen technologies at centre stage, but demand for the technology was growing even before the device was announced, the analysts say.

It's claimed that global shipment revenue for the leading touchscreen technologies will be worth $4.4 billion by 2012, up from $2.6 billion last year, in 2006.

“Demand for touchscreen displays is being driven primarily by the mobile-phone and consumer-electronics industries - specifically portable game consoles, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and Portable Navigation Devices (PNDs),” said Jennifer Colegrove, senior analyst, display technology and strategy for iSuppli.

In future, iSuppli believes touchscreen displays will find a role in diverse industries, from planes, to automobiles, to machine-control systems, to home appliances.
The eight leading enabling technologies include: resistive, surface capacitive, projected capacitive, infrared, Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW), optical, bending wave, and active digitizer.

There are also eight other emerging touch-screen technologies, including photo sensor in pixel, polymer waveguide, distributed light, strain gauge, multi-touch, dual-force touch, laser-point activated touch and 3D touch which are beginning to emerge.
As demand grows, prices are expected to fall 10 per cent each year for the next five years, the analysts said.