Microsoft patents active bezels for windows tablets

Microsoft has applied for a patent for a new form of palm rejection which would allow them to use more narrow bezels on their Windows tablets.

The patent would rely on adding touch sensors to the bezel itself, something which is very easy with capacitive screens, which would then allow the computer to compute the “centre of mass” of the touch – if the centre of the touch is largely outside the screen then the screen portion is likely accidental, but if it’s within the screen then it is likely intentional.

The patent also suggests that adding touch capabilities to the bezel could also allow the functionality of the bezel to be extended further, allowing it to control menus for example.

The patent suggests:

In one or more implementations, one or more touch sensors located in a bezel portion and a display portion of a display device detect a touch input while display capabilities of a region of the bezel portion are inactive. Responsive to detection of the touch input, the display capabilities of the region of the bezel portion are made active to cause a menu to be displayed in the region bezel.

Microsoft’s user interaction researchers recently also showed off how the hand holding a tablet can also be used to access menus and other functionality, illustrated in the image above, saying the thumb is available and sufficiently mobile to manipulate many controls, enabling a whole new space of “thumb + pen” interactions.

The inventor listed at USPTO is Steven Bathiche, Vice President Microsoft Hardware and one of the developers of the original Microsoft Surface and a big advocate of pen computing.

Microsoft Panos Panay has hinted that their next major upgrade to the Surface Pro will offer “an experiential change that makes a huge difference in product line.” Hopefully, it will also include such features that will once again make us sit up and take notice.

See the patent for Touch Sensitive Bezel Techniques here.

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