'Smart' bezel, illuminated buttons could be coming to iOS devices

According to Mac Rumors, a recently filed Apple patent shows that the future iOS devices, such as the iPhone 5, may feature illuminated controls similar to the second generation iPod. The article explains how the new design may feature a newly designed bezel around the main display with "controller buttons that glow and morph for work and play." It continues by explaining how "a secondary display could include multiple regions, and one or more of the regions could include multiple segments."

The second display on the device, made from "printed segmented electroluminescence", could be used for numerous applications, including being "selectively illuminated to provide one or more indicators that represented where or how a user can provide inputs to the device," the patent says. This new display could show extra controls for games or special applications and allow developers to control any icons shown without the need to interrupt the content being shown on the main display.

According to Patently Apple, the next generation device design will "incorporate various sensors including motion, positioning and physiological so as to understand the orientation of the display so it could change the secondary display orientation and illuminated buttons or indicators." This news follows a recently published article by Patently showing how the new bezel may not have a traditional home button, "Apple really spells out how the smart bezel may not require a Home Button and added controls like volume will simply require a swipe of your finger."

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22 Comments

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The only thing here that I see is that this would likely increase the size of the bezel, which I remember was a heated thing when the iPad came out... I don't know how well this would go over with people...

Not to mention all of the prior art by companies that have done very similar (If not the same) things...

Hasn't having touch areas on the back of devices been tried lots of times before and the feedback is always bad from the users, be interesting to see if Apple could pull it off

Smart Bezel?
Sony has had transparent, illuminated, touch-sensitive borders on their computers for YEARS!
TVs have these. E-readers have these. Digital photo frames have these.

And what's this? A rear touchpad. Where have I seen this before? Other than the hundreds of patents and designs over the years. The Sony NGP.

Looks like Sony has been all over this area and has it all covered Apple.

hotdog963al said,
I presume you've never played an FPS game on it then :3

It's a phone. With the possibility of games and music. It shouldn't be an ultra portable gaming device with a phone built in.

Nashy said,

It's a phone. With the possibility of games and music. It shouldn't be an ultra portable gaming device with a phone built in.

I agree with this, you bought a Phone, not like you say an 'ultra portable gaming device' its a phone, it should do what a phone does.

omgosh.. I can swipe my finger to change the volume instead of pushing the buttons.. meh I like having the actual buttons. I think apple is forgetting how the push of a real button is appealing to alot of people

Lachlan said,
omgosh.. I can swipe my finger to change the volume instead of pushing the buttons.. meh I like having the actual buttons. I think apple is forgetting how the push of a real button is appealing to alot of people

Yet their trackpads are clickable! A future iPhone may have a clickable screen

If this does happen, then we won't see this with this years iPhone. The iPad 2 just came out and they won't make the iPad 2 and the iPhone very different from each other. Next year with the iPad 3 and iPhone (6?) we will see this because they will both be similar and not very different.

Unwonted said,
I already have a monitor that does this. How can they patent it?

Because patents are generally very long and very specific and detail a specific implementation of a technology. That then gets distilled into a news headline like "Apple patents rear touchpads" "Apple patents multitouch" or "Apple patents power buttons".

Stetson said,

Because patents are generally very long and very specific and detail a specific implementation of a technology. That then gets distilled into a news headline like "Apple patents rear touchpads" "Apple patents multitouch" or "Apple patents power buttons".


Hehe, finally someone said it. +1 and closure for a number of comments in this thread.

Caleo said,
Gee, they didn't rip the new PSP's idea off at all.

.....and who did Sony rip that idea from.

Motorola, who have a feature called Backtrack on the BackFlip Android Handset.

Caleo said,
Gee, they didn't rip the new PSP's idea off at all.

If you look through the rumours you'll find that there were some that the iphone4 would have the same thing. Technology and ideas get shared, it's really how they are implemented which separate the companies. Take the Table, Microsoft had a tablet pc in 2001. Apple reenergised this simply through how they delivered it.

neo158 said,

.....and who did Sony rip that idea from.

Motorola, who have a feature called Backtrack on the BackFlip Android Handset.

Yeah. There's really no shortage of companies that have done things like this. I'm shocked they were awarded the patent honestly.

Stetson said,
I've seen patents and demos from other companies as well covering similar ideas over the past several years. When I saw the NGP with rear trackpad I thought "Wow, someone finally put it in a real product."

I felt the same