Potential for Mind-Blowing New Controls on iPhone 5, First Pictures Hiding In Plain Sight

Do you ever get the feeling that the black bezel surrounding the impressive display of your iPhone is just useless space that may be better left off of the device? Well either way, Apple is looking into changing the bezel in a big way. Not by removing it, but by making it interactive and complementary to the display. In fact, Apple is even labeling the bezel as a secondary display in recent patents.

The bezel is presumed to be turning into a printed segmented electroluminescence display soon. Basically, the technology will allow things to be displayed and illuminated in the area surrounding the screen. There are tons of uses for this, especially for notifications and controls. The prospect of the “smart bezel” becomes more exciting as more possibilities are conceived, such as game controls being pushed out of the main display and onto the bezel; expanding the game view while making great use of the feature. Imagine what developers could do with this, effectively adding extra controls and clearing some of the clutter that a complicated interface on a small screen forms.

Smart Bezel Tech DemonstrationBesides having a cool illuminated look, the smart bezel would also boast sensors for the orientation and be able to tell whenever something is near it. The image from Patently Apple on the right is a good indication of what to expect from this technology. The image illustrates a phone concept that utilizes the tech on the entirety of its face. Note how everything displayed is placed on top of the black face and that whatever is displayed can be instantly manipulated.

Not only would this be an unique, experience-changing addition to the front, but Apple is also experimenting adding areas similar to the “smart bezel” onto the back of devices, particularly the iPad. Your fingers would be able to control certain elements while you are holding it. The first notable announced consumer device to feature comparable touch controls on the back of a device (though without the display) is the Sony NGP, which releases at the end of the year.

An iPod With a Smart Bezel?

A few days ago, CrunchGear had received images of an iPod touch prototype that lacks a physical home button. Now that the smart bezel is being unearthed, it seems likely that this prototype may include the new technology. From what I could put together, the image to the left either includes the tech or was plausibly a stepping stone towards it.

[via PatentlyApple]

Written by Michael DeLisi