Apple’s been at the patent pot again, this time showing plans for hardware devices including sensors throughout the device – presumably with the aim of removing the need for physical hardware buttons. Could we be saying goodbye to our beloved home buttons?
The theory is pretty simple. Place multiple sensors under a device’s touch screen, around its bezel or on the back of the device and the area can be used as a button. This opens all sorts of possibilities. Want to increase the volume on an iPhone? Swipe across the speaker. Want to go Home? Swipe backwards on the bottom of the device. Remember the Palm Pre? Yup, just like that.
The sensors could even be used to identify different users, depending on their hand image, common movements and whether they’re left or right handed. They could even remove the need for an orientation lock-switch, linking screen rotation to the way that the tablet or handset is being held.
If this all sounds familiar it’s because it is. Apple has been rumored to be working on this kind of tech for a good while now, and more recently even Sony has been said to want to do something very similar with the next version of its popular(ish) PSP gaming machine.
I can’t help but think this is one of those patents companies put out there just so nobody else can use it, but if I’m wrong, we’re in for some very interesting hardware from the guys in California.