Motorola Patent Details How Its HTC-Like Grip Feature Works

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Future Motorola devices could come with HTC-esque grip sensing technology, according to a new patent that the company recently filed (via) with the World International Patent Organization (WIPO). The system works by fingerprinting users' fingers along the sides of devices and using sensors to figure out how they're gripping the devices and how much pressure they're applying.

The new grip sensing system being shown off in this patent is seen in the Drawings section to be applicable to all sorts of devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and Moto Mods, just to name a few possibilities. This means that Moto could add the capability to almost any device it develops, or that it develops an addon for.

The grip sensing system shown in the patent has a sequence of events and a few different components that feed into it. The system can look for input on a constant basis, look for input based on an audio cue, sense a module being attached and ask for input from that, and more. It can also display a visible indicator that it's expecting a touch on applicable surfaces, though that would require the use of an LED, a screen, or other visual component above the sensor.

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When the system detects input, that input is passed through a number of steps in order to eventually be relayed back to the core software of the device in question. Once it begins seeking input, it picks up on any input it gets, and runs it through a database, among other tools, to figure out whether it should register a call to action based on that touch. Device movement also plays a part, apparently.

One interesting facet of the patent is a grip profile database, seen in some of the sequence drawings. This database, likely kept on-device, could open the door to multiple users on a single device without having to manage profiles manually as one would in Android's built-in multi-user system. That could also mean different actions for different users, based on grip.

The potential impact here is fairly large. For starters, the most obvious possibility is grip sensing built into future Moto devices, such as its upcoming RAZR foldable phone. This technology may also pop up in future Moto Mods, since that was one possibility shown in the drawings. This would mean that any compatible Moto Z series phone could suddenly become grip-sensitive.

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Squeezable phones aren't the only possible use case for grip-sensing technology. Future phones that use the tech could also eschew physical buttons along their sides, making use of grip points that trigger button presses when a certain part of the phone is pressed on.

Moto has yet to make any of this official, and it is, after all, just a patent for now. This means that we may never see grip-sensing devices from the company. Given all of the demonstrated use cases in the patent drawings, however, Moto seems to already have plans on how to implement the tech, leaving it a question of only when.