Microsoft seems ready to bring back a pretty old school input method, that involves touching the back side of a device. The so called “Back Touch” is being mentioned in patents associated to the potential Surface Phone.
It all started years ago, when the Microsoft user interface researchers hinted at a better use of a device’s back, aside from covering the battery. One could use the back surface of a phone as a touch sensitive area, in order to control what’s happening on the screen. It’s already happening actually, as the fingerprint scanner on quite a few smartphones can be touched and swiped on to pull down the notification area.
Microsoft doesn’t have a phone to currently implement the ideas, but it’s prepping the Andromeda. Christian Klein and other Microsoft researchers figured out that in some configurations a folded Surface Phone could offer a touch sensitive area on the back side. This lead to the creation of a patent for a “Gesture Language for a Device With Multiple Touch Surfaces”.
The patent mentions that there could also be a secondary screen at the back. It details a “surface that is opposite the primary display”. Scroll and swipe gestures are also mentioned, while the device is firmly gripped by the hand. I find this useful particularly for scrolling text or websites.