Apple Patent Explores Smart Bezel On iOS Devices

A new patent has been discovered in which Apple describes an iPhone device with a new type of ‘smart’ bezel that could use electroluminescent technology to display illuminated indicators around the iPhone display. The patent, discovered by PatentlyApple, also describes how productivity controls could be integrated both into the new bezel and on the rear panels of iOS devices.

The uses for the new technology could be pretty interesting with the report suggesting that the secondary bezel display could be used to provide indicators for the primary display.  This would allow the software to guide a user to select certain inputs, either making the device easier to use or more intuitive with different one touch suggestions.

There is another fantastic use for this new feature which is for the notification of things like e-mail, text and calendar events, or even battery life, without having to resort to home screen notifications.  Smart notifications on a bezel could potentially use up less power than firing up the primary display.  However, this smacks a little of the flashing red email light on the top of Blackberry devices.

This may just be something that Apple is exploring, however, as recent rumors concerning the iPhone 5 have suggested that the device will incorporate a larger screen that will run from edge to edge.  This wouldn’t leave a lot of room for the ‘smart bezel’.

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  • cv

    I would infer nothing from any Apple patent filing. They file lots of patent applications and the vast majority never see the light of day in a product sitting on a store shelf. Remember that this is a company that makes dozens if not hundreds of prototypes and only one design wins.

    Ideas are not required to be commercially viable to make them patent worthy. Also, it is rare that an idea comes to market in the exact form that it was illustrated in a patent application.

    The only thing one can expect from this patent filing is if someone *else* tries to do this, they would probably receive a call from Apple’s intellectual property attorneys.

    It is ill advised to make any assumptions about Apple’s product roadmap from their patents.

    • DarenW

      Certainly true–we see hundreds of interesting patents cranked out of Cupertino that never come to fruition.

      On the other hand, they are a fun peak behind the curtain at a company that seldom tells us what they are thinking. You can get some idea of process, if not future direction.

      • cv

        Yes, it’s a whimsical behind-the-scenes look, but it’s nothing more than taking a stroll through Willy Wonka’s lab.