Google might be looking to introduce touch controls on the rear of its devices. The search giant has applied for a patent for rear controls on devices. Patent Bolt reports that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published the patent, which shows that such backside controls could let you turn the pages of an ebook, scroll through an article on the web, or flip through images or music albums in a playlist.
There are also a host of conceptual diagrams depicting what Google has in mind with this technology. In one of its diagrams, Google explains how an Android smartphone recognises an operation in response to non-touchscreen contact on the rear of the device. Interestingly, Google says that future Android devices with this ability may give users visual, audible, and/or tactile feedback, indicating that a tap on the device's rear has been recognised. A conceptual diagram also shows how torque detected on the device can indicate a location of contact with the device.
Are you excited to see this?
Google reportedly filed this application in the third quarter of 2012, and it was only recently published by the USPTO. Incidentally, in 2006, rival Apple introduced this concept for its future tablets.
Think you’ve heard something similar before? Well, Sony's handheld console, PS Vita, also equips a rear touchpad. You could use the touch-sensitive rear panel in games and it was actually quite functional.
Google has been raking in a lot of patents these days. The company acquired Motorola Mobility for its huge patent portfolio in 2011 to safeguard the Android ecosystem. The acquisition gave Google more than 17,000 patents—a crucial weapon in an intellectual arms race with Apple, Microsoft and others to gain more control over the increasingly lucrative market for mobile devices.
Google CEO Larry Page said in a blog post announcing the deal, “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”
Motorola has picked up a lot of intellectual property over the long years of its existence. It came up with the first commercial mobile phone and a lot of other wireless products and services. Owning such a large patent portfolio is definitely a smart move on Google's part.