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Detecting the Orientation of Portable Devices in Relation to the User Holding Them

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000202529D
Publication Date: 2010-Dec-21
Document File: 2 page(s) / 44K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database


Portable devices are starting to gain more knowledge about themselves. Things such as hand held phones and games device remotes are being given accelerometers so that they can determine their physical orientation. Intelligent reactions to this data - such as rotating a screen between portrait and landscape mode - provide richness to the user experience. There is further information that these devices do not yet know, which could immensely benefit them (particularly as 'apps' for portable devices can do more and more things) - that is, orientation of the device in relation to the user.

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Detecting the Orientation of Portable Devices in Relation to the User Holding Them

This article describes an invention that determines where a portable device is in relation to a user. There are many applications which utilise information from touch-sensitive sensors, in a variety of ways, but there is yet to be a definitive method of determining specifically where a device is in relation to the person using it.

    In this invention, the device utilises touch-sensitive areas - for example, a touch sensitive strip around the edges and on the back of a device - and attempts to determine the user's grasp on the device from this information. By correlating the grasp determination with other easily available data (such as accelerometer information), an accurate estimate can be obtained regarding where the device is in relation to the user.

Some examples of embodiments of this invention include the following:
1. A device in "camera mode". Is the user pointing the camera at something in front of them, or is the camera inverted and the user is taking a self-portrait? If the device knew this information, it could adjust photo settings automatically (e.g. change the photography mode).
2. A device in "picture view" mode. Is the user pointing the device at themselves, or away from themselves? If the device is facing the user, a grid of photos could be displayed. If it is facing away from themselves, then they might be showing somebody else a specific photograph and so the device could switch to full-screen mode.

    This invention relies on touch-sensitive sensors located in various positions on the device. An ideal situation would be a thin touch-sensitive strip surrounding the edge of the phone, making it easy to detect situations like that seen in Figure 1. The strip would have the facility to detect the pressure points shown in Figure 2. Alternative or additional sensors could include touch-sensitive panels located on the device in places where users' fingers and hands are often in contact.

Figure 1:

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Figure 2:

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    This article describes an extensible algorithm which takes in the sensor information from the touch-sensitive strips, and attempts to determine the user's grasp. The algorithm the...