Google has filed an application for a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office for back panel touch controls.
According to Patent Bolt, the Mountain View company aims to introduce such controls for actions such as turning the page of an e-book, or moving to the next article in a website, scrolling through images in a photo gallery or through music files in a playlist. Google’s filing indicates that the technology is capable of identifying whether the user is simply handling the device or using the controls.
Patent Bolt says that in 2006, Apple already announced that it was working on a similar technology. Apple back then imagined a tablet that came with touch zone controls on the rear panel, along with other technologies that it surmised would be part of future mobile devices like click-wheels, virtual dials, virtual turntable mixer, and floating reader controls.
To date, Apple has not released a device that comes with the rear panel touch zone technology. As BGR notes, however, Apple in the past has introduced some ideas, but never tried selling a product with said controls. It is worth mentioning, as well, that Apple’s application for the touch zone controls on the rear panel was not approved by the US Patent & Trademark Office according to Android Authority, and there is a chance that the same agency may deny Google’s application.
In any case, Google and Apple are still undoubtedly in a tough competition to be the first to introduce innovative mobile device functions and features.
Meanwhile, Google’s patent filing has been noted by some to be comparable to the back touch panel found on the PlayStation Vita. The Vita’s rear multi touch pad, for its part, functions to help save space on the front display and at the same time, allow the user to hold the device more securely.