Way back in '07, we learned Apple had patented touchscreens with interactive backs, meaning you could perform on-screen manipulations while keeping your finger out of the way. By 2010 we were calling it "backtouch" and (incorrectly) predicting the iPad would have it. Now that we'd given up hope on this UI technology ever hitting the market, Google is bringing our hopes up once more (even though we're afraid to love again).
Patent Bolt has announced that Google has patented "Simple backside device touch controls":
We thought the whole point of a patent was that they're not awarded to duplicate technologies, but apparently there's something in Google's secret sauce that makes it different. From a user standpoint though, the benefits appear the same: You tap the back of your phone or tablet, and that registers a hit on-screen, enabling you to manipulate apps or perhaps type.
We're curious as to how ergonomically sound this is, as the opposable thumbs my dog always complains about not having seem more agile than the fingers we'd use to access the back of a device. I just picked up my phone and spent a few minutes pretending to type on the back versus actually typing on the front, and while the former feels a little awkward, I already suck at the latter. (One sure benefit though, backtouch would leave less fingerprints on the glass.) Try it yourself, assuming you're not out in public and don't want to look like a tool, and let us know if you think backtouch has got legs.