A year ago, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Google Patent Clearly Eying the Desktop Market for Android." Of course listing Android was a slip on our part because it was supposed to be Chrome. The patent report also clearly illustrated a trackpad for a notebook and one year later, voila, Google announces the Chromebook Pixel. For all intents and purposes that's a patent fulfilled. The twist to Google's Chromebook is that it will offer a touchscreen. And that angle was covered in a recently published patent application by Google with another twist. Chrome OS will be coming to future tablets. Technically, this could eventually tie into a future Ultrabook Convertible type of Chromebook whereby the display is able to pop-off of a Chromebook Pixel notebook to be used as a functioning tablet. But there's one more thing: The tablet housing is touch sensitive and will be able to allow the user to position UI elements where they wish on the display by simply touching the tablet's housing in specific areas.
I had just read a Gizmodo report this morning titled Google Has Killed Android (the Brand) and thought, what an interesting twist if it panned out. I then began to work on this Google patent application when I saw that they were clearly presenting Google's Chrome OS on a tablet. Yes, a tablet as you could clearly see in the graphics throughout this report.
Google's new patent filing begins by stating that because mobile phones are typically small, there are few possible variations for holding the device, and the screen is small enough relative to the size of the human hand that all portions of the user interface are easily accessible, regardless of how the device is held. On the flipside, larger scale hand held touch screen devices typically require the user to change the way in which the device is held to access portions of the user interface.
In Google's patent FIG. 2, we see Google Chrome browser on a tablet. The user interface 62 includes a variety of interactive elements 64 that control primary functions of the user interface. In this example, the interactive the elements include a back button, a forward button, and a refresh button, which are commonly found in web browsers and control primary functions of the web browser relating to navigation.
The interactive elements are not limited by this example, however, and could include any desired interactive elements. The interactive elements 64 can vary based on the active application, usage context, and other factors.
Floating Menus, Touch Sensitive Tablet Housing
Google's latest patent informs us that the standard and non-standard Chrome OS elements will be able to be positioned in various positions based on the user's needs or desires as shown below in patent FIGS. 4A and 4B.
The touch sensitive housing is connected to the touch sensitive display screen 20 and outputs a hand signal that indicates a position on the touch sensitive housing that is touched by the user. A number of technologies and configurations can be employed for the touch sensitive housing 40.
The touch sensitive housing can include a housing 42 and a touch sensitive element 44. The housing can include a front surface 46, a peripheral surface 48, and a back surface 50. To connect the housing to the touch sensitive display screen, an opening is formed in the housing and is bordered at its outer periphery by the front surface.
Other configurations can be used for the housing. As one example, the front surface can be omitted if the touch sensitive display screen is sized such that it occupies the entire front of the tablet.
Additionally, the touch sensitive element is positioned on or in the housing in any suitable configuration, and has one or more sensors that output a hand signal that indicate a position on the touch sensitive element that that is touched by the user. Depending on the configuration and technology selected for the touch sensitive element, the touch sensitive element can be positioned on an interior surface of the housing, can be embedded in the housing or be extended through the housing in one or more locations.
Google's patent FIGS. 4E and 4F noted above are illustrations depicting an exemplary hand position and an exemplary display position of an interactive element of the user interface of the device.
Google's patent was application was originally filed under serial number 206761 in Q3 2011 and published in Q1 2013.Today, Samsung and others use Android for their tablet OS. In the future, it may likely be Chrome OS.
While the Chromebook Pixel and touch sensitive table housing are yet other examples of Google trying to copy Apple's patent pending ideas, in some cases it might be Google who is hungry enough to actually bring them to market before Apple. Hey, if it helps to push Apple to get their ideas out the door quicker, I'm all for it.
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