December 22, 2014

Google patents tip shearing, sliding, and squeezing for future smartphones

Recently discovered patents suggest that Google may be looking to make it easier for users to operate smartphones with only one hand. The patents, which were filed in Q2 2012, have Google turning to shearing, squeezing, and sliding for gestures and controls.

Given that smartphones are now pushing into 5-inches and larger we should expect that someone steps up to make it easier for users to get a handle on things. After all, what good is pull to refresh and one-tap updates if you’re still using two hands. Seems a little wasted, no?

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The team at PatentBolt found that Google’s patent employs pressure sensitivity, parallel elements, and strain gauge sensors. In a nutshell, users could operate the device’s various functions by simply squeezing the sides together. Further, squeezing the top or bottom could result in different actions based on the application. Think in terms of advancing music tracks, long pressing, or pulling up menus and you can see the allure.

For example, the processor may be configured to control an application executing on the portable electronic device to select an item displayed on the display screen according to a squeeze gesture, control an application executing on the portable electronic device to rotate an item displayed on the display screen according to a shear gesture, and control an application executing on the portable electronic device to return to a previously displayed list according to a splay gesture.

Keep in mind that while this is a patent application from Google it’s not indicative of future Android devices. With that said, we would not be opposed to see a smartphone that lets us use the sides of our device to help navigate and initiate actions. Think about a phone that shows an indicator light or symbol to verify you’ve squeezed or sheared to open an app or start a function. Doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it?

PatentBolt