Future iPhone Might Ditch Physical Buttons & Replace Them With Touch Panels Across All Surface
Apple was granted a patent, numbered 14/817328, that could make future iPhones touch-sensitive in all angles. The patent suggests that iPhone plans to deploy touchable and scrollable sensors in the sides and even the backside of future designs.
In a document from United States Patent and Trademark Office, the sci-fi sounding term "quantum tunnel" was used to describe a material that can replace the current physical buttons. Instead, iPhone is working on touch controls that could work in about any surface.
Apple applied for the patent in 2015 but retained the secretive nature of the design. It is only last week that USPTO granted the approval. The same patent applies not just for future iPhones but wearable devices as well although quantum tunneling material to be used for the latter needs to be either curved or bendable to accommodate the iWatch.
In technical perspective, quantum tunneling uses materials and electrons sensitive to touch commands. While analysts suggest that there could be a touch-sensitive "plate" on the back of future iPhones, it is also possible that the technology can be integrated on the phone itself.
In Apple's technical description, they plan to deploy two layers of touch-sensitive materials on top of each other. These plates have a dynamic electrical resistance that responds differently, depending on the force of touch being applied.
What could be the primary beneficiary of early quantum tunneling is Apple's EarPod replacing the control button panel. There are indications that the current iPhone toyed with the idea when they deployed a mock headphone jack, but eventually ditched the design altogether.
Not to get eagerly excited, Mashable said that quantum tunneling is unlikely to happen for the upcoming iPhone 8. The same analysis placed the design as speculative for now until Apple ieclares that they are already working on it. It is also unclear what material is currently available to attain the quantum tunneling effect.