Apple has made a big new technology bet. Well, it is better described as a new bet to use something very old – as part of something very new. What the heck? The idea is to take sapphire (yep, the same sapphire found in jewelry – see below image) and use it to make iPhones and iPad glass stronger.
You may have never heard of an Arizona based company called GT Advanced Technologies, but in future Apple devices, the firm could end up playing a pivotal role.
The company, which has expertise in sapphire technology and “crystal grow” materials for consumer electronics recently confirmed, along with Apple, that it is collaborating with Apple to provide sapphire materials. This includes accepting a large investment from Apple to acquire a new facility, equipment, and operating capital all exceeding $500 Million. It could actually be much more.
Sapphire has started to show up in all kinds of newer Apple products. The “Touch ID” fingerprint reading technology in the iPhone 5S uses a cut sapphire crystal cover. And even earlier, the iPhone 5 camera utilized a sapphire crystal lens.
But the future could be even more exciting for the beautiful blue stone. Speculation is rampant that Apple will begin to use the scratch resilient material in future touch-screens in iPads and iPhones. This would presumably replace Gorilla Glass from Corning. And it could debut the new screens as soon as the future iPhone 6 – expected by many to be released in 2014. If successful, Apple might further extend the use of sapphire to its other product lines, including the next iPad.