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Apple Receives Patent for Touch-Sensitive Bezel for Portable Devices

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Patently Apple reported yesterday that Apple has been granted a patent regarding the use of touch-sensitive bezels in electronic devices, primarily focused on portable devices. While the content of the patent is not new, having been previously disclosed with the publication of the initial patent application in October 2006, the technology has gained renewed interest as the granting of the patent and the introduction of Apple's new iPad tablet device have provided additional perspective not available at the earlier time.

According to the patent documentation, the invention describes the use of a touch-sensitive bezel, offering discrete areas on the bezel for controlling the device. Visual cues displayed on the screen next to the touch-sensitive areas would instruct the user on each area's function. In addition, the patent describes the integration of an orientation sensor such as an accelerometer that would allow the device to adjust the both the locations of touch sensitivity for certain functions and the corresponding visual cues.




Orientation sensing for device offering touch-sensitive bezel
At the time of the original patent application's publication, neither the iPhone nor the iPod touch had been introduced, and the application's included images offered an intriguing glance at what a "Video iPod" might look like. With last week's introduction of the iPad, which offers a relatively substantial bezel around all four sides of the display, additional opportunities for deployment of the technology have become possible.

It remains unclear, however, exactly what benefit a touch-sensitive bezel would offer to an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad user given the multi-touch capabilities of those devices' screens. The ability to control certain functions of the device without obscuring the device's screen would appear to be a benefit at first glance, but the need for visual cues on the display to identify the controls would appear to mitigate that benefit.

The bezel is not the only component of the iPhone that has been rumored for touch sensitivity. A report several weeks ago suggested that Apple may be planning to offer a touch-sensitive casing in the next-generation iPhone that would allow users to control the device by touching the rear of the iPhone. While little evidence for the claim beyond an anonymous source was offered, previous patent applications from Apple have also pointed to its interest in "back-side touch".

Article Link: Apple Receives Patent for Touch-Sensitive Bezel for Portable Devices
 

guzhogi

macrumors 68040
Aug 31, 2003
3,211
1,177
Wherever my feet take me…
I saw this yesterday I believe. How are they going to handle the user/curve with learning where not to touch or where to touch for the appropriate action?

Put some stickers on it?

I agree, how do you avoid accidental pressing? Plus, how do you hold the device without touching the touch areas?
 
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chris7777

macrumors 6502
Nov 27, 2008
285
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Would this be anything like what the Pre has?

I was thinking the same thing.

It could be really useful for things like back or potentially multiple apps simultaneously if apple ever opens that gate.
 
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Hattig

macrumors 65816
Jan 3, 2003
1,448
84
London, UK
Hmm, "back-side touch". Can get you in trouble.

Clearly the bezel touch system includes on-screen hints as to the functionality of touching a certain area (why not press the screen in that case - maybe because you're holding the iPad and can't touch that far into the screen?). However because of accidental touches you would probably want to ignore single taps and prolonged touches, and instead only detect swipes.

Note the Palm Pre has a touch-area below the display, which is pretty much a bezel touch implementation.
 
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macshill2

macrumors member
Feb 3, 2010
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0
I saw this yesterday I believe. How are they going to handle the user/curve with learning where not to touch or where to touch for the appropriate action?

Put some stickers on it?

You bring up a great point. You pick it up, move it around, put it down and how do you not launch something (an app)?
 
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j26

macrumors 68000
Mar 30, 2005
1,506
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Paddyland
I have a feeling someone might have already done this...

Aren't there some Samsung phones with touch sensitive areas that are not part of the screen?

If the Pre also has something similar, how has a patent been granted?
 
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Eric4082

macrumors newbie
Feb 3, 2010
13
0
Maybe youre focusing on the wrong products

Perhaps this patent is for another product such as the rumored touchscreen imac or something else like a macbook.
 
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BrendonSled

macrumors newbie
Jan 20, 2009
7
0
Aren't there some Samsung phones with touch sensitive areas that are not part of the screen?

If the Pre also has something similar, how has a patent been granted?

yes, samsung instinct

the whole screen is touch sensitive.
 
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macshill2

macrumors member
Feb 3, 2010
49
0
Perhaps this patent is for another product such as the rumored touchscreen imac or something else like a macbook.

I can see it being beneficial for the medical field. You put an iPad on a stand with a gooseneck, you can pull it forward or put it out of the way and touch the screen to pull up medical charts and xrays. The university dental school uses something a bit like that now. Quasi permanently mounted or permanently mounted.
 
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Porco

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
3,152
6,123
The ability to control certain functions of the device without obscuring the device's screen would appear to be a benefit at first glance, but the need for visual cues on the display to identify the controls would appear to mitigate that benefit.

The visual cues could be translucent, which has to be better than solid objects like thumbs that obscure part of the screen entirely.

Personally I would rather they just use buttons.
 
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MacModMachine

macrumors 68020
Apr 3, 2009
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Canada
I agree, how do you avoid accidental pressing? Plus, how do you hold the device without touching the touch areas?

maybe if you had read the full article you would know.

they state the options "bubbles" for selection only show up in certain applications on the sides of the screen like a menu...as shown in the picture.
 
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macshill2

macrumors member
Feb 3, 2010
49
0
yes, samsung instinct

the whole screen is touch sensitive.

Aw, why didn't Samsung patent this??!! They could knock that awful patent-suing Apple off of its high horse. :p I actually say that in all honestly, because it's a one-way street when it comes to Apple suing and Apple suing others.
 

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hundert

macrumors regular
Jan 24, 2010
177
0
they put so much money into research of these touch screens, yet these are so freaking unpractical. If you, like me, want precise work, you want it to be buttons, and you want your screen to be clean...

But if there is a demand and people buy it...
 
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Ca$hflow

macrumors 6502
Jan 7, 2010
447
67
London, ON
Are they going to make a handle to hold onto the iPad?:p No seriously what would I hold without activating an action?:confused:
 
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thejakill

macrumors 6502
Sep 8, 2005
401
0
Not interested in back side buttons. Starts to feel like you are holding a playstation controller. Too many buttons.

Simple is better.
 
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boncellis

macrumors 6502
Feb 9, 2006
474
0
Salt Lake City
Make it customizable and it won't be too much of a learning curve--similar to the hot corners on OS X, I use them instinctively now without having to think about which function is assigned to which corner.
 
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BrendonSled

macrumors newbie
Jan 20, 2009
7
0
Sony certainly has, like on my C902 phone...



the blue icons are touch sensitive with haptic feedback when in camera mode.

I dont really think this is a patent for touch sensitive icons on the bezel.
realistically the magic mouse, or any macbook trackpad also has this technology.
It must be a patent for using gestures on bezel areas
 
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