‘Smart Bezel’ Could Make Future iPads Feel Bigger [Patent]

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How do you increase the size of a touchscreen without increasing the screen real estate? Answer: by creating a smart bezel.

A new patent published today reveals how a future generation iPad could feature a bezel able to detect gesture and touch inputs through Force Sensing. Not only would the technique described allow gestures — such as swipes — to continue off the normal surface of the screen, but it would also allow specific virtual buttons for tasks such as scrolling to be incorporated into the iPad’s bezel.

These virtual buttons could then be used to detect a force signal corresponding to an object exert force on it, meaning that the iPad would know how hard you were pressing it. It is, of course, worth noting that recent iPad models have decreased the bezel size from earlier models. Should this patent find its way into future generation iPads, it would mean either reestablishing the thick frame around the iPad touchscreen, or modifying the patent method to work with the more slim-line bezel seen on the iPad Air and iPad mini.

The patent describes a method for incorporating virtual buttons into the iPad bezel, for carrying out tasks like scrolling.

The patent describes a method for incorporating virtual buttons into the iPad bezel, for carrying out tasks like scrolling.

The “Gesture and Touch Input Detection Through Force Sensing” patent was filed July 26, 2012. Named on it is Nima Parivar, HID Software Engineering Manager at Apple, whose previous patents include a method for gesturing with a multipoint sensing device, and a graphical user interface featured Enhanced Touch Targeting. Also named is Apple MultiTouch Architect, Wayne Westerman.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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