The Smarter Phone


Or: Show me the pointer

Main Goals

Easier handling and greater application versatility by using a mouse cursor along with additional hardware and software features.

Release Date

English version: 07/01/2015, German version: 12/12/2014

Idea and Description

Kurt Andro

Starting point

Current smart phones are equipped with high-definition displays, powerful processors and enduring batteries. They have great cameras, sensors and other great features. Much of what you not too long ago would have needed a full-blown PC, can now easily be done at the mobile device. Thousands of websites have become "mobile friendly" or are available as stand-alone apps.

However, there are still millions of sites that have not (or poorly) been adjusted. One of the biggest annoyances for mobile users are small, closely spaced navigation elements and other (linked) objects. To hit with your finger, is a real challenge. So you often end up on the wrong page, which is particularly frustrating for slow Internet connections. Or one zooms in every time, clicks and zooms again. And often the design of the page does not reveal what is clickable and you "grope" in the dark.

The main problem in comparison to the PC is not necessarily the smaller display, but especially the lack of the mouse cursor. It simply does not exist in the concept of common Smartphone operating systems. For perfect made apps or sites you can get over it. But there are just so many less-than-perfect ones…

To provide a mouse cursor would not be so easy for common hardware and software equipment. How should the device recognize that (and where exactly) a finger hovers above the screen. And even if it could, it still would not have been sure that the finger then hits, what its owner intended to hit.

Brief Description, Objective

As stated above, we have now abundant "Horsepower" under the hood. Therefore high time to improve the control concept, to expand the range of applications and end the unspeakable fumbling on "non-mobile" sites. By the way we are developing some new operational scenarios. With a high value and fun factor.

So what could a mouse cursor help us with concretely? The basic shape, the arrow, just shows us the position where an action would take place. We can left click, double click, right click (for example, to open a context menu). If we let the cursor hover over an object without clicking on anything (hover or mouseover function), sometimes small help texts (so-called tool tips, mostly in yellow boxes) appear.

Or we realize that there is something clickable, something linked here, because the pointer turns into a hand with a pointing finger and because objects change their appearance, eg. their color. Or navigation menus open themselves. Also possible: a link target (URL) is diplayed so you can decide whether or not to click or grope it. But above all, we (finally!) hit what we have targeted.
Here's a small selection of the most important additional functions that - not only in websites but also in apps - might be useful: highlighting text sections; selecting one or more objects, moving, resizing; taking color values, drawing accurately and being informed that a loading or computation is in progress.

Sketch of a device that provides the familiar operability from a "real" PC by a "touchpad" and additional keys

Draft
Draft

Features and options

With the lid closed, the display is protected against damage and dirt. The side-mounted buttons are disabled, so they can not be triggered accidentally.

The device will be thicker and heavier than a conventional one. But as today's devices are almost ridiculously thin and light - so thin and light that they can (supposedly) be bended just by wearing them in a pocket (sometimes with and sometimes without destroying the display) - that the increase in dimensions and weight is more than acceptable. Especially when it comes to the many advantages of the folding device compared to lightweight conventional ones.

The additional box volume could be used profitably for more battery capacity. Preferably, the lower housing part. So it could be held easier and safer in the hand (mass centre).

Hardware Variant

One might install a real touchpad and above it a smaller screen instead of the separable bottom display. Approximately one-third to two-thirds. Between the two a slightly raised edge is inserted, so that you can feel where the touchpad ends.

Device Access (Log in / out)

A keystroke followed by a wiping motion (as required with other devices) is no longer necessary. To turn on the displays, it suffices to open the hinged cover. If no password has been configured, the device is ready for use.

Otherwise, the login screen is shown immediately. Since two displays are available, a keyboard can be displayed on either one, so all uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation marks and special characters are available (without switching to and fro). A good incentive to use (at last) a strong password. If the operating system now is still good enough to encrypt all the content with that password the user's personal data is much safer than with conventional devices.

The login screen could, if desired in the settings, also offer a guest account in order to use the device with some restrictions. For example: web surfing: yes, email: no; photography: yes, view picture gallery: no; listening to music: yes; deleting songs: no. And so on.
By closing the hinged lid you are logged off, the display will be switched off and the side buttons will be disabled.

Camera App

One variant could be: a display as a viewfinder, the other keeps all options for direct control.

Another one: If both housing bodies have a camera (and the processor has enough power) both cameras could be triggered simultaneously. Two photos or videos (stored in two separate files). Depending on how the hinged lids are bent some interesting photos or videos would be conceivable. For example, a main subject (sports, theater, etc.) and at the same time (to the side), the reactions of the audience. Or an interview, in which both parties can be recorded simultaneously. These recordings could be played back in sync on the same device or could be supplied as easy-to-process base material to a multi-track video editor.

Email App

After starting the e-mail app the upper display shows the list of mailboxes (e-mail accounts). The lower the list of the selected account's subject lines. After clicking on a subject line, the upper display will show the subject lines and the lower one the content of the above-selected e-mail. When writing: above the content, below the keypad and the "touchpad".

Drawing App

Precise operation will be possible. Exact attaching a line (because the point is not covered by a finger or stylus). Along with a snap-to-grig function even with pinpoint accuracy. Object snap lines can extend the (cross-hair) mouse cursor.