LG was recently awarded a patent that appears to describe a method that would expand 'tap to wake' features well beyond simply turning the phone screen off or on. Listed with the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) under patent number US20180239490, the associated documents describe a method by which a display effectively waits for a single tap. Up until that point, it is a low-power mode that keeps it turned off and deactivated. Once a tap is registered, a secondary function activates and waits for another input to occur both within a set time frame and a set portion of the screen. The latter of those is set based on where the initial input occurred. If a secondary input is detected within both parameters, the display becomes fully active. Otherwise, the screen goes back to its deactivated state.
That's already very similar to the current and now common ability for an Android device to have its screen activated or turned back off via two shortly-spaced taps or knocks. However, LG definitely doesn't appear to be attempting to reinvent the feature at all. In fact, based on the associated diagrams and descriptions, the company is attempting to fundamentally change how that works so that different tap types can launch different apps and services. For example, the touch sensor is described alongside one image as working in conjunction with what is presumably a folio-style case that leaves at least part of the screen visible. The sensor detects the case and notes which portion of the screen to leave active so that a single tap on that display brings up a clock or other information. In other diagrams, the company shows a user knocking with their knuckles and then knocking again before swiping. That's shown as a way to control audio playback depending on the direction of the swipe. Other gestures work in a similar way in the various diagrams. Different swipes are used to open different apps or to control other functions while a completely different type of secondary tap is shown activating voice control features.
Primarily, the new method and associated feature appear to apply to smartphones but could also show up in other 'terminals,' including other connected user-facing displays. More conceptual uses for the sensing method also include actions at a distance, such as tapping on a table between two handsets in order to connect them. On the mobile side, it wouldn't necessarily be too surprising if it cropped up in any upcoming LG handsets. Patented technologies aren't guaranteed to be utilized or appear in the real world implementations within a short timeframe. However, given how popular 'tap to wake' and gesture-based controls have become and that LG effectively led for at least one of those, it would make sense for LG to extend those features further.