Microsoft has apparently filed a patent for grip-based device adaptations, which ultimately means that Microsoft wants a touch-aware sensor on the grip of a tablet device that adapts device behavior in different ways. Microsoft apparently filed for this patent back in May of this year.
"Grip-based device adaptations are described in which a touch-aware skin of a device is employed to adapt device behavior in various ways. The touch-aware skin may include a plurality of sensors from which a device may obtain input and decode the input to determine grip characteristics indicative of a user's grip. On-screen keyboards and other input elements may then be configured and located in a user interface according to a determined grip," the patent application abstract reads.
"Having a touch-aware sensor grip simply allows the tablet to adapt itself to the way you are using it."
Basically, one can launch on-screen input elements or other elements based on grip characteristics. In essence, the positions of windows, pop-ups, menus, and command elements may be re-located depending on where the device is being gripped.
Here's another example of how this would work. If you trigger a dialog box and your grip pattern indicates that you are holding the device with your left hand, the dialog box would appear on the right side of the screen to "help avoid occlusions and facilitate interaction with the user interface by placing items in locations that are optimized for grip."
Another example would be the placement and size of the on-screen keyboard based on your grip pattern. But this idea also expands to on-skin controls of the device. For example, you can hold your tablet device in landscape mode with your right and left hands on the sides of the device and use the top or bottom part of the device as a volume controller by swiping on the skin. You can even use the back side of the device to control a web browser, such as scrolling or going forward/backward.
"In at least some embodiments, a gesture defined to facilitate selective launch of on-screen input element may be recognized and used in conjunction with grip characteristics to launch the on-screen input element in dependence upon grip. Additionally, touch and gesture recognition parameters may be adjusted according to a determined grip to reduce misrecognition," the patent abstract further explains.
Not all patent filings make it to fruition, but if this idea does come about - it would be a great addition to the Surface tablet. Thus far, we have had to adapt to the way a tablet works. Having a touch-aware sensor grip simply allows the tablet to adapt itself to the way you are using it. Perhaps the Surface 3 will embody the touch-aware sensor grip. We will just have to wait and see.
Thanks to @h0x0d for the tip.