Smart bezel patents from Apple are old news, but this morning saw a new variant surface in the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s database. Patently Apple has dived deep into the document and discovered some blow-away details. Put simply, Apple is proposing a bezel that doubles as a secondary display built around a printed segmented electroluminescence technology:

Apple intends to use the secondary display to introduce a set of new illuminated indicators that are able morph into various controls for work and play. Illuminated gaming and productivity controls could be built into the face-side of the bezel and/or selected back-side areas of iOS devices like the iPad.

This opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities…

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For starters, the bezel running around iOS gadgets could be made touch sensitive, allowing users to tap the illuminated control to access common features such as media playback and game controls. Apple also envisions backside controls for the iPad, with independently illuminated segments acting as indicators for a virtual game pad or scrolling controls. Location labels and driving directions could illuminate on the bezel when using the Maps app, for example. Patently Apple pushed the envelope and imagined a virtual home button that automatically illuminates when your hand approaches the home button area, as depicted in the below mockup.

If this patent ends up used in future iOS gadgets, expect easier, more convenient handling of everyday tasks, like bumping up the volume, pausing the audio playback and more. It’s sexy, there’s a substantial wow factor involved and it enhances the user experience in a Star Trek manner. I’m giving this one a thumbs up.

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