An Apple patent was published this week that details a touch sensitive, smart bezel for its tablet devices. The bezel would include touch sensors, pressure sensors, light emitters, haptic actuators and accelerometers. With this array of embedded sensors, a user could touch the bezel and control volume, adjust brightness and more.
This patent also describes the use of the bezel to wake up a device, unlock a device and toggle a device on and off. Such a design could allow for the development of a home button-less iPad, a device that was rumored earlier this year by BGR. The smart bezel is similar to, but more advanced than the touch-sensitive gesture area of the Palm Pre Plus and the Pre 2. This type of smart housing may also make its way into Apple's notebook line where embedded sensors would be used to detect I/O activity.
This is not the first patent to introduce the use of an intelligent bezel in a tablet device. Earlier this month, Apple was awarded a patent for a bezel that controls volume, adjusts brightness, lets a user zoom, and even functions as a game controller. An earlier patent describes touch-sensitive areas that could replace buttons on a device such as the iPad. Together these patents suggest Apple is looking at alternative input mechanisms that could drive the next wave of innovation in the tablet market.