Nokia has many â€œout thereâ€ patents, including for things such as bendable phones. Their latest patent application is for phones with a surface which, when touched, can induce the feeling of the phone moving forward, left, right or back in your hand, all without moving itself.
The magic is achieved by using a number of movable haptic elements (the squares in the figure) which are able to move independently and in a pattern of needed, creating waves of motion which simulate actual motion.
Nokia notes in the filling this would be useful for:
Navigation and route guidance applications use visual and audible user interface. Various user interface operations related to list and menu manipulation use mainly visual feedback, except that sometimes tactile confirmations to user actions are given post factum. An example embodiment could use the directional haptic sensation in navigation and route guidance applications in addition to, or as an alternative to, the visual and audible user interface. It is difficult or unacceptable for a user of mobile equipment to view a display or to listen to sound alerts or audio guidance when walking or driving. Features of the example embodiment described above could be used to provide guidance without the user having to use audio or visual guidance from the apparatus.
Another application not mentioned in the patent is gaming of course, and while this system is not practicable for every phone, one can definitely see a dedicated N-Gage-type gaming device having this on the back.