Google patent hints at tablet UI that adapts to the way you hold the device

by: Bogdan PetrovanMarch 1, 2013

google patent adaptable ui

With legal wars escalating and patent trolls running amok, technology companies often recourse to patenting even the most outlandish ideas, in a bid to gather as much intellectual property as possible.

In many cases, the applicant is not even close to turning the idea into reality, so we can’t rely on patent applications to predict future products. But from time to time, we can get a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come.

If a patent uncovered by Patent Bolt is any indication, Google’s future tablets could feature an adaptive user interface that reacts to the way the device is grasped by the user. In other words, the tablet would “feel” how the user holds it, and move UI elements around so they become accessible with one hand.

The recently published patent application was first filed in Q3 2011, and specifically mentions tablets as devices that could make use of the adaptive user interface.

The USPTO application contains the following illustration of the concept.

google patent adaptable ui 1

As you can see, tablets could relocate UI elements on the fly, thus making it possible to use the device with one hand. In the above illustration, the Back, Forward, and Refresh buttons of a web browser are moved to the side, thus becoming easily accessible.

The patent goes on to discuss the technical aspects of the concept, but what is more important in my opinion, is the fact that the idea is easily implementable. I would especially love to see this happen on 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7, which I often find myself tempted to use with just one hand.

Again, a patent application is no guarantee that a technology will ever make it into a real product. But it’s good to see Google working on improving the way we operate our gadgets.

  • Jason T. Smith

    Could this be what the chrome://flag “Bezel touch” referes to?


    you’re not holding it right…

  • Roberto Tomás

    hmm — how long before we see bezelless tablets? :)

    • You know, bezels do serve a purpose… Not everyone wants bezel-less tablets or phones. Bezels help frame the image, help facilitate swipe gestures, give a place to hold the device without interfering with the screen, etc. Maybe smaller bezels could be better on certain devices, but I personally don’t see why we should do away with them completely.

    • I dream about bezelless tablets and smartphones.

      Smartphone 95% front screen.
      Tablets 85%~90% front screen.

    • A bezelless tablet is a stupid idea. You wouldn’t be able to hold it comfortably without touching the sides of the screen

      • Roberto Tomás

        same with a mobile phone? And .. I take it you didn’t read the patent.

  • I hope they figure out a left handed friendly landscape tablet option. I find myself daily mumbling, “Google hates left handed people…”

    • Lol, not sure if they hate left-handed people, although, I was wondering why this wasn’t made left-handed friendly, too. Maybe there will be a setting to switch the dominant hand or something.