Samsung has filed a patent for a new feature that will allow a device to be unlocked by drawing on the screen a figure with at least one intersection point.
According to patent application US20140066017 filed over the weekend with the US Patent & Trademark Office, the Korean smartphone maker wants first dips at a "touch-and-drag operation" to unlock a mobile terminal while the device is in lock mode. The method includes tracking the touch-and-drag trajectory, where one or more intersections occur, to release a lock mode.
That effectively means the feature can be used while the device's display is off, so users don't have to hit the power or home button to turn on the display just to use the feature.
It also doesn't matter what form or shape the figure should take, as long as there's at least one intersection point. What's more, users can customize the drawings to turn on specific apps. For instance, a figure with three intersection points can be configured to turn on the Twitter app when drawn on the screen. A drawing can also be assigned to make or reject a specific call.
The patent application stated: "The hot key function includes various applications or functions that are provided by the mobile terminal, and a specific application or function corresponding to the number of intersections is executed. The specific application or function includes a camera, a phone number list, a message, a call, and various applications or functions that are provided by the mobile terminal.
"The user may freely touch a touchscreen since there is no limitation in terms of size, location, and pattern of a touch input, and since a standby screen is displayed or a specific application is quickly executed according to the number of intersections of a closed surface."
Sounds like a pretty neat way to wake your smartphone without having to hit the power button and unlocking it. But I wonder what that means for battery life, since the display screen would have to be ready all the time to receive and execute functions each time the user touches and draws a figure.
Perhaps it operates on the same principles of a battery-assisted passive RFID, which is activated only when triggered by an RFID reader, so the smartphone only needs to power the screen when a finger touches it.
Whatever the case, it sounds like a patent Apple might also be interested in, or not?