The USPTO must be busy these days. With every tech company jockeying to secure legal rights to anything resembling an idea, it’s a wonder how the truly deserving and innovative ideas ever get issued a patent. Nevertheless, Sony Ericsson has filed for yet another display patent.
The patent application, entitled “Orientation based multiple mode mechanically vibrated touchscreen display,” describes a technology that would sense the orientation of the handset’s display and change the configuration of the “mechanically vibrating touchscreen display.” The application includes diagrams that show a mobile phone in landscape orientation and sporting a gaming layout – the display shows gaming controls similar to the PSP, and Sony Ericsson even makes mention of the PSP in their patent application. Another diagram shows the cellphone in portrait orientation with more traditional handset controls – keypad and navigation keys below the call-display.
To quote the patent application:
“A system and method is disclosed for reconfiguring the graphical user interface (GUI) of a mechanically vibrated touchscreen display associated with a portable mobile communications device that is operable in a variety of modes.”
“An orientation sensing mechanism senses whether the portable mobile communications device is currently in a portrait or landscape orientation. An orientation sensing application accesses an orientation profile that associates each mode of operation with either a portrait or landscape orientation and determines which mode of operation is the default mode for the sensed orientation of the portable mobile communications device”
In other words, turn the device on its side and the touchscreen could re-configure to display gaming controls or media controls (depending on what function you are currently using). Turn the device right-side up and you’ll see the touchscreen reconfigure itself to allow for voice calls, web surfing, or text messaging.
Apple took the stage by using accelerometers in the iPhone to detect orientation changes and rotate the screen accordingly, but Sony Ericsson seems to be taking this idea to the next logical step. The idea is really obvious, but then again, the best ideas (and patents) are usually the simplest.