Skip to main content

Motorola Patent Reveals Buttonless Phone Plans

Motorola’s new patent for pressure-sensitive controls allow for their use by pressing anywhere on the phone’s edge.

The Moto One. Credit: Motorola

(Image credit: The Moto One. Credit: Motorola)

After a previous patent discovered earlier this week showed how its retro forldable Razr 2019 model might look, Motorola's latest patent focuses more on how we'll be interacting with phones. Found once again among the filings to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the patent was granted on Jan. 17 2019, but had been filed in June 2017.

An illustration showing how the phone detects a user's grip. Credit: WIPO

(Image credit: An illustration showing how the phone detects a user's grip. Credit: WIPO)

The document details Motorola’s idea to take your average touch screen device, and then make all four edges of the rectangle a control surface. It would be able to detect the locations where a user’s hand was in contact with its frame, and then display relevant controls next to them, so you can always hold the phone how you want and still be able to use all the functions without moving your hand or fingers around.

MORE: Motorola Razr Coming Back as $1,500 Foldable Phone (Report)

The patent (spotted by GizmoChina) goes on to describe how modular attachments would be able to use this system, as well as how it could also use voice controls, or a motion sensor to move the controls around when the device is tilted. Overall, it says that its design would reduce mechanical failures (since there's no actual buttons) while also improving accessibility for all users, and the accuracy of their inputs.

An illustration of the phone adding new virtual buttons when an accessory is attached. Credit: WIPO

(Image credit: An illustration of the phone adding new virtual buttons when an accessory is attached. Credit: WIPO)

This all sounds excellent, but the this is very similar to existing and upcoming devices. The HTC U12+ has squeezable spots on either side of its frame, and the Meizu Zero and the Vivo Apex’s have no buttons or ports, just wireless connections and haptic feedback from a touch-sensitive casing.

How the phone would change its control layout for left and right-handed users. Credit: WIPO

(Image credit: How the phone would change its control layout for left and right-handed users. Credit: WIPO)

If and when Motorola put this tech to work on a device, it could be able to claim some ground back with its ability to move the virtual controls around depending on grip and gyroscope inputs. Until then though, it’s an intriguing concept quiter literally only on paper.