Looking at what patents a company files can give you an idea where they're future project might be. While some are futuristic and probably won't see the light of the day, other patents are closer to reality. There is also a third type: bonkers patents. A quick search on Google's patent search tool and you will find some examples.
The patent we're talking about right now is a patent which is will likely appear in the near feature, or at least I hope. Google's patent no. 20130038564 was filed in August of 2011 and published this year on February the 14th. The patent describes the feature as follows:
[…] the display position is determined such that the interactive element of the user interface is displayed on the touch sensitive display screen near the position on the touch sensitive element that is touched by the user.
The patent also mentions that the positions in which those buttons can appear are a number of predefined positions and that the buttons will appear nearer to the first hand detected. The sensors that will be used to detect the hand will be located in the bezel.
The touch sensitive display screen 20 can include a touch screen22 that is positioned on top of a display 24. The touch screen 22 is substantially transparent, such that the display 24 is visible through the touch screen 22
But I digress. Coming back to the patent, the feature is described in the pictures as it would be used in Chrome where the back, forward and refresh buttons are moved on the screen nearer to the hand for easy access. That being said, I don't understand why for the left hand the buttons are located at the bottom of the screen.
Regardless of that, the feature would be interesting to see, however I don't think that the display frame will get to be touch-aware anytime soon.