Apple Patents Touch Sensitive Bezel

I hate to say I told you, but I told you: The Apple iPad is exactly what I said it was going to be except for two things: Multitasking and the touch-sensitive bezel for hot corners. Guess what Apple did.

Yes, the did the last thing: The US Patent and Trademark Office just published patent 7,656,393, registering the invention of a touch-sensitive bezel that will bring up hot corners up in the main screen.

An electronic device has a display and has a touch sensitive bezel surrounding the display. Areas on the bezel are designated for controls used to operate the electronic device. Visual guides corresponding to the controls are displayed on the display adjacent the areas of the bezel designated for the controls. Touch data is generated by the bezel when a user touches an area of the bezel. The device determines which of the controls has been selected based on which designated area is associated with the touch data from the bezel. The device then initiates the determined control. The device can have a sensor for determining the orientation of the device. Based on the orientation, the device can alter the areas designated on the bezel for the controls and can alter the location of the visual guides for the display so that they match the altered areas on the bezel.

In the gallery you can see an explanation of its features.

Here you can see how the bezel brings up hot corners and other hot areas when touched.

This image shows a method on how the sensor circuitry would be spread through the bezel.

According to the patent, the system will allow to discriminate between groping and actual touch actions on the bezel.

It will also change the orientation of the corners as you rotate the display, so they are always in the same position.

This is pretty much what I already proposed in Apple tablet user interface article, both as a solution for the positioning of the home button - which, as Mark points out, is awkward to use in portrait mode - and as a way to invoke different menus and switch between running applications whenever they enable multitasking in the iPhone OS.

You can see how hot corners may work using this sensitive bezel here.

We don't know if Apple will implement this patent or not, but it certainly makes a lot of sense to make the tablet more powerful, while keeping the user interface as easy to use and intuitive as it is now. [Patent report by Patently Apple]

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