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Google’s New Patent Lets You Talk into Any End of the Phone You Want

When Google launched Honeycomb, one of the selling points was that the action bar was always at the bottom of the tablet, where you needed it, no matter how you turned the device. With smartphone and tablet designs today looking pretty similar from any direction you look at it, telling which way is up might be a little difficult, but Google’s newest patent looks to help you with that problem.

The patent shows a phone with a microphone and speaker installed into each end of the device, and when the time comes to actually use your phone as a phone, the device will tell which end is up, and activate the speaker and microphone accordingly. It’s an interesting patent that could lead to even more interesting phone designs. Time will only tell though if Google actually puts the IP to any use.

Via: Engadget

  • Dannyboy

    Because nowadays you have to have patents for such rediculous things in order to keep from getting sued by Apple.

  • feztheforeigner

    I don’t think you know what the action bar is…

    It’s the bar at the top of ics+ apps that provides functionality and options. It replaced the menu buttons, not physical buttons entirely…

  • J Dub

    What I like about this: possible stereo sound from the device on both play back and recording. Left and right input and output channels.

  • eddieonofre

    what about those times I like to talk to my girlfriend and I lay on my bad with my head hanging on the edge?

    • Bsody

      Im not sure your hand has an up or a down…

  • Amenemhat1

    And Google just got sued since Apple was going to be thinking about something similar 2 years down and they wanted to get a jump on litigation…

  • Wow…a phone for people who don’t know one end from the other! Verizon employees should love this…

    • J Dub

      I see a device “convenience” charge in the pipeline for allowing you to use your phone anyway you want to.

  • thedonxr

    Did they use the new LG phone to draw their patent from? 😛

  • PC_Tool

    What if I am laying down when I answer the phone?

    Sure, there could be a way to disable it…but I don’t want to have to toggle this on or off depending on my position….seems even more of a hassle at that point than just turning the phone.

    I agree with others that state this seems pointless.

    …but who knows? Maybe Google has found a way to make it work.

    • Archer

      or what if you’re hanging upside down? The phone wouldn’t work properly!

      • JoshGroff

        I don’t typically answer the phone when I’m hanging upside down, but I can imagine it would be quite annoying (with or without this newfangled technology.)

        • Bat

          Hi there local bat android enthusiast here. As a bat I find myself in all sorts of upside down situations, so this appeals to me.

      • Howard Chu

        Or… floating in space, zero-G environment, the phone would never know up or down to begin with…

    • Bsody

      A simple line of code that detects which microphone hears the loudest sound from your voice would solve your issue.

      • PC_Tool

        If only it were that simple…the other mic is what? Touching the user’s ear. If the user rubs the phone over their ear while this “simple line of code” runs…the wrong mic will be enabled.

        What are you going to do, sample every second?

        • Bsody

          In that case the ear mic would be the only one to pickup a large sound, while the other would no even detect it. Once the phone determines the correct orientation, by hearing you say hello, it would be locked into that orientation. I doubt people have a habbit of flipping the phone upside down during the middle of a phone call, so continuous sampling wouldn’t be necessary.

  • didn’t read comments, but stereo sound and dual mics have proven necessary for better audio quality. seems like a great idea to me.

    (and yes, i pick up my evo lte from the wrong end all the time)

  • TrojanFan

    Who thinks this is amazing? This is what I call common sense and why all these patents are getting out of hand. This should not be awarded a patent, as there is nothing innovative here.

  • Maybe theyre making a phone that has no up or down? a completely orientationless phone?

  • Mark Lewis

    It is a cool idea, though.

  • Mark Lewis

    Fails the non-obvious test. Why did the USPTO grant this in addition to all the other obvious “innovations” from Apple et al?

    • Cam

      I think this is part of a ‘Patent Everything’ movement we’re going to see a lot of post Apple’s sue-fest.

    • Go Hawkeyes

      if it’s so obvious then why hasn’t anyone else done it already?

      • Mark Lewis

        Doesn’t matter. Does this idea deserve a temporary monopoly because of the overwhelming value that its public disclosure provides to the industry? I think not.

  • Well thats…kinda cool.

  • I’m imagining laying down and having the phone sense the wrong end up. This already happens constantly with auto rotate and screen orientation.

    • T4rd

      I’m sure you could disable it, just like auto-rotate. That is exactly why I have the auto-rotate toggle in my notification bar ;-).

    • JoshGroff


      Also, I just think it’s a dumb idea in general. (hence why no one else thought of such an idea so far.)

      • Jarred Sutherland

        That statement makes zero sense and makes you look stupid for using it. All things have to have a point at which they were thought of, sketched out, etc. Your statement assumes that every invention that would ever be important should already be here.

        • JoshGroff

          I, as everyone else, am allowed to have moments of stupidity if I so please.

          Also, if you want to talk about stupidity, it would be no sense, not zero sense. Someone correcting someone and calling them stupid should at least use proper grammar whilst doing so. Of course my last sentence in the previous post was an over generalization; I tend to do that sometimes when I’m trying to prove a point, I am only human after all.

          • Jarred Sutherland

            My bad.

  • JoshGroff

    Ok, this is truly awesome. Kind of pointless, but awesome nonetheless.

    • Jarred Sutherland

      Not at all pointless! Since Google has wanted to do away with physical buttons, being able to just pick the phone up and not have to worry about which end is up completely would be a great thing.

      • JoshGroff

        How does one fail so hard that they would have to worry which end is up in the first place? I put my phone in my pocket top-up (headphone jack of course being on the top, and grab my phone, still top up and put it to my ear, it’s not difficult…) Also, either way there is a camera with which one can use as a reference point for top/ bottom.

        • Jarred Sutherland

          How does one fail so hard? I am not seeing the point of failure here. If you cant stand it, I am sure there will be plenty of devices that do it the other way around.

          If everyone had your mentality about things the majority of technology we use each day wouldn’t exist. Most technology at it’s planning phase probably looked worthless to many, they didn’t “see the need for it because the way we do it now just works”.

          • JoshGroff

            I’m just saying it doesn’t seem that useful unless you are vision impaired, in which case it’s a brilliant idea. Otherwise, if you somehow can’t tell which end of your phone is up and which is down, then that would be a fail. (unless both ends were utterly identical)

          • Jarred Sutherland

            And that’s because you are thinking in terms of what is currently available. This is obviously not meant for hardware currently available as one end has a speaker, the other end a microphone. Current hardware design will change, and this may be one of the “next things”.

          • JoshGroff

            So then cameras and speakers will be dead center? Otherwise, it would look weird holding a phone with the camera on the bottom.

          • Jarred Sutherland

            Detailed drawing in the article above. As far as camera placement, unless you are going to take pictures upside down you would figure out orientation rather quickly when the camera app launches.

          • JoshGroff

            I mean for when you’re talking on the phone and your camera is on the bottom. It would look odd.

          • Jarred Sutherland

            Honestly to me I don’t care what it looks like to someone else. To me it’s a utility, Apple pushes things as a fashion accessory or a status symbol.

          • JoshGroff

            That’s true, but think of using your phone whilst reclining in a chair or as someone else mentioned laying in bed or hanging upside down, of course there could be a toggle to make them both dedicated spots, but it’d just be annoying.

          • Bsody

            The correct orientation could be determined by the sound level coming though each microphone when you answer, locking the phone’s orientation. While I don’t see this as a game changer, I think it will end up being common enough that people will no longer think about it.

            Also, you stated earlier in one of your posts that you placed your phone in your pocket with top up, because of the headphone jack. This negates the argument of where a headphone jack would have to go on a phone to make it the most practical.

          • JoshGroff

            If it detected proper orientation by sound level instead of a gyroscope, that would be pretty awesome.

          • Bsody

            I’m not saying it is, it’s just how I would do it. You could also measure the time difference between sound hitting each microphone, though I would imagine that requiring more sound processing and noise canceling.

        • Go Hawkeyes

          It’s not about failing to be able to tell which end of the phone is up. It’s about not having to worry about it at all.

          • JoshGroff

            Is it that hard to flip a phone 180 degrees that we’d even be considering such an idea?

      • You sir, know what you’re talking about.

      • Alex

        I personally enjoy opening my phone, taking the battery out and then yelling into the empty battery space.

      • fixxmyhead

        this is baked in aokp. just enable the 180 degree rotation checkbox but yea need another mic on the top

  • Mark

    Sorry, Apple already patented that

  • Jarred Sutherland

    I like this! Hey Apple, look, innovation!

    • El Big CHRIS


      • michael arazan

        Innovation: see, Litigation

  • It’ll be pretty interesting to see this implemented. I can kinda see it in my head.

  • KleenDroid


    • Jarred Sutherland

      Honestly what is amazing is how you seem to have already attracted a down vote…?