Future phones get fuel cells, touch screens

18th Jul 2007 | 23:00

Future phones get fuel cells, touch screens

Normal-size touch screens due to join alcohol-powered phones

The Wireless Japan exhibition near Tokyo this week has seen plenty of demonstrations of existing and future technologies, but there's one that we're still not sure how to categorise - fuel cells .

The various technologies that make up the many kinds of power-giving fuel cell have all been around for years and we're constantly being told that commercial applications are imminent, yet somehow nothing has arrived yet. The latest devices to see the light of day are from Toshiba .

Methanol driven

The company's DMFC (Direct Methanol Fuel Cell) has been seen before in other prototype devices, so it makes a change for it to appear powering a real mobile phone as a battery substitute. The company also showed an external DMFC charger for powering up any device via USB. Toshiba says both could be available within a year.

As well as the DMFC gear, Toshiba displayed some very thin screens it has developed with Matsushita for use in phones and similar devices. These range from 2.4 to 2.8 inches and are just 0.99mm thick.

So touchy

The OLED displays offer WQVGA resolution of 432 x 240 pixels and employ circuitry built into the glass and are all touch-sensitive. This is achieved without a touch-panel module by using an optical sensor to follow the shadow a finger makes onscreen.

Given the current trend towards touch-sensitivity in larger-screened devices, it's clearly only a matter of time before even smaller phones and PDAs sport the technology. Toshiba Matsushita hasn't specified a date for mass production.

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