Next iPhone may have smart bezel for controls

Smart bezel may control next iPhone
Smart bezel may control next iPhone

The next iPhone may have some crazy, new interaction metaphors, as a new patent shows that Apple is working on a smart bezel for its smartphone that may lead to true, button-less controls.

The folks at Patently Apple unveiled a patent which shows a secondary display that makes up this smart bezel. This could be used to illuminate for notifications and even controls.

A secondary display could include multiple regions, and one or more of the regions could include multiple segments. Different regions of the secondary display may be selectively illuminated to draw a user’s attention to those regions or an area adjacent to those regions. For example, a region of a secondary display may be illuminated to draw a user’s attention to an adjacent area of a touch screen. Different segments of a secondary display region may also be selectively illuminated to form indicators that convey information to a user.

When you combine this with the leak of the next iPod touch with a reported capacitive home button, we may finally see an iPhone without any physical buttons. We all know that Steve Jobs hates buttons, so it may not be too long before we see the iPhone ditch it entirely.

Of course, the smart bezel patent doesn’t mean this will be in the iPhone 5, as many companies patent thing that never get to market but we know Apple is thinking about new interaction methods. The iOS 4.3 betas featured multiple multitouch gestures that could have replaced the home button but these were taken out before the final release.

What do you think of the smart bezel on the next iPhone? I think there’s always room for innovation on how we interact with these device but I’m curious to see how the execution plays out. As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

[Via Patently Apple]

  • Why not just make a bigger touchscreen that could utilize these notification areas for video and stuff when they are not in use?

  • John

    i think htc has something similar where the controls change orientation when the phone is tirned to its side (landscape mode). i thinks it’s the htc incredible s.

  • Ray

    If this is true, this could be a game changer all over again… A double display/interface; that’s big!

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