Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Upside Down Phone Patent 291

An anonymous reader noted that "A patent has been filed for the "Upside Down Phone", which features the keypad on top and the screen on the bottom. The idea behind the upside down phone is, apparently, to allow faster texting by have a more comfortable position for the thumb to work from. A quick check of this seems to confirm the theory, making this one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Upside Down Phone Patent

Comments Filter:
  • by alexhard ( 778254 ) <alexhard@gm a i> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:01AM (#17920702) Homepage
    I don't know..maybe because the hands will be right on top of the screen and you won't be able to see anything?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AoT ( 107216 )
      not if you hold it right.

      I had a job during the summer where I had to do a lot of data entry into phones and I ended up holding the thing upside-down and using it that way because it was easier.

      Of course, this was all on a bicycle, so that makes a difference as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Radon360 ( 951529 )

      I agree. Maybe I'm missing something, but the idea seems to go against simple ergonomics. I would compare it to the early versions of the Garmin hand-held GPS receivers. Several models had their buttons above the screen. You had to "drive" it with two hands; one to hold it and one to run the keypad with a finger so that you could navigate through the menus. It was my major gripe about their GPS at the time, and the reason that I went with a Magellen GPS receiver back then (I have since purchased a Garm

      • Once, someone suggested building in voice recognition for entering an SMS...My reply was, "why don't you just call them instead."
        Because it's usually more expensive. That would be a great idea for a cellphone - voice recognition + voice synthesis + SMS for extremely cheap and slow voice calls.
        • by gregmac ( 629064 )
          So what makes you think the cell phone companies have any interest in developing (or supporting on their networks) a phone that has voice recoginition for SMS? Remember, it's them you're paying to make those 'expensive' voice calls..
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Goaway ( 82658 )
            I don't know of a single company that both manufactures phones, and sells connectivity. Your point makes no sense.
        • 10p per text, for 160 characters...

          Or 20p per minute (on an average tarrif with about 200 minutes thrown in anyway)

          I don't know about you but I can say more in 30 seconds than I can write in 160 characters!!

          I only find texts handy when you are not able to talk (eg in a pub and its too loud or in the office and dont want to be over heard) otherwise just call the person - its a novel use for a phone I know (maybe it should be patented...) but there you go
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by hummassa ( 157160 )

            I don't know about you but I can say more in 30 seconds than I can write in 160 characters!!

            I somehow doubt that. But I'll try to sample it for you -- these are examples of voice calls/text messages I exchange every once in a while:

            00:00 <wife> hello
            00:02 <me> hi
            00:04 <wife> everythink ok at the office?
            00:08 <me> yeah, alright
            00:10 <wife> would you please bring home some stuff from the market? I need two packages of diapers, two baguettes, ham, cheese, lettuce, and half a kilo of grinded meat.
            00:22 <me> diapers, bread, ham, cheese, lettuce, meat; six things, o

            • With the added advantage that you don't have to write down the damn shopping list, it's on your SMS memory already.
    • by fang2415 ( 987165 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @01:54PM (#17923216) Journal

      One of us *did* think of that. []

  • haHA (Score:5, Funny)

    by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:02AM (#17920724)
    Gonna get rich! I just filed a patent for the upsidedown laptop, where you pull up the keyboard and look down at the screen.

    Makes it easier for those of you who type with your feet. (I'm looking at YOU, AOLers...)
  • by cvd6262 ( 180823 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:04AM (#17920742)
    I bought a Garmin GPS12 [] back in '98 that had the screen on the bottom. It made for great one-hand used.

    I guess adding "cellphone" to a design is just like adding "on the Internet" to a business plan.
    • by Distan ( 122159 )
      You beat me to the punch, but I was going to post the same thing. I found the Garmin interface to be much easier to use than the competitors at the time (like Magellan), mainly because the "buttons on top" made it simpler to operate one handed.

      The disadvantage is that if you have the device mounted (on the dashboard of your car, or on a panel of your boat), your hand tends to block the screen while you punch the buttons. Buttons on bottom works better if you need constant view of the screen while you oper
      • by necro81 ( 917438 )
        Well, the obvious solution is to have a device that's orientation-aware, possibly using an accelerometer, that could flip the button mapping and screen orientation depending on whether it is held one way or the other.

        Wait a minute...

        [rushes to go file patent application]

        -1, Obvious
    • by montyzooooma ( 853414 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:34AM (#17921202)
      "I bought a Garmin GPS12 back in '98 that had the screen on the bottom. It made for great one-hand use."

      Whoa! There's GPS porn?

    • by elcid73 ( 599126 )
      I already added my DAP to the list []
    • by Devar ( 312672 )
      Yup. I still use a Garmin GPSMap76 [] which is pretty much exactly the same design albeit much newer :). So again keys-top screen-bottom isn't new at all.
    • "I guess adding "cellphone" to a design is just like adding "on the Internet" to a business plan."

      Be thankful for that. "On a cellphone" means (erm.. in theory, I should point out) they wouldn't be able to go after Apple for making an iPod with a control interface a the top with the screen below. (There's lotsa other reasons they wouldn't be able to go after it, I wanted to use that on simplistic terms as an example.) The theory is that if you specify a narrow purpose for it, you won't be able to patent
  • by ISoldMyLowIdOnEbay ( 802697 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:05AM (#17920754)

    How the H*ll Can You Patent That?
  • Layout patent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredDC ( 1048502 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:06AM (#17920778)
    How is it possible to patent the layout of something? I'll just go and patent a much used way of laying bricks on top of eachother and everyone who builds a house has to pass by my bank account first? This patenting is getting way out of hand!
    • by LordEd ( 840443 )

      much used way
      This is where your idea can not be patented due to prior art.

      However, I have never seen a phone with the screen placed on the bottom.
    • >This patenting is getting way out of hand!

      Out of hand, eh? Easy solution! Invent an upside-down patent system! :D
    • by RESPAWN ( 153636 )
      Thanks for the idea. ;)
  • Well it's true, there are a lot of things that seem to be common sense that aren't yet patented. For example, my upcoming patent for a simple gesture to signify the consummation of a business deal. I like to call it the handshake.
    • by saskboy ( 600063 )
      If you're going to do that, I'm going to patent the gesture one can make to the patent office for accepting ideas that waste their time, and court time. I call it the middle finger salute.

      The cell phone idea is strange, since you have your head turned down more now to see the screen. Although it's similar to what they did with laptops - moving the keyboard against the monitor, instead of the front edge of the base.
  • I hope it was side talking as well!
  • what you're used to (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    making this one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments.

    This is simply because people don't think about ergonomics or what logically makes sense. Rather, they view things in terms they are familiar with. So since cellphones have always had the buttons on the bottom, everyone just assumed that's where they should go. The same can be said for interfaces in software development. Look at all the sourceforge projects that have GUIs. How many of them are just rehashes of the same bad interface design id
    • by Zenaku ( 821866 )
      In interface design, intuitiveness is one of the most important factors, and making your interface similar to the countless interfaces the user is already familiar with makes it more intuitive for him.

      Thus what has been done in the past becomes a design consideration itself. Even a brilliant new interface that by all other measures is more intuitive and easy to use can be a bad design if it confuses the users by being too different from what they already know.

      The prevalant design ideas from windows didn't
  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by earthloop ( 449575 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:07AM (#17920792) Homepage
    Ericsson did this way back in 1999 with the "Hedvig".

    Project was cancelled, one reason being users didn't like the upside down configuration.
  • one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments.
    Sometimes known as an "obvious" invention. Which the law is supposed to prevent from being patented [], if it were not abused by a patent regime administered to hand out as many artificial monopolies as possible.
    • Of course, most brilliant inventions seem "obvious" after you've heard of them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        And most ideas that are obvious after they're stated were obvious before they were stated. While all ideas that were obvious before they were stated are still obvious afterwards.

        Taking an invention and running through all the combinations of directions of placement is not "novel". If I take AT&T's patented keypad and patent it with the numbers running right-left, or down-up, or both, that's an obvious invention from the prior art. So is putting the keypad above the display.

        These patents are exceptions t
    • I think you've got that backwards. If you are thinking "Why didn't I think of that?" you are also thinking "I didn't think of that." If you hadn't thought of it before, then it's not obvious. More importantly, nobody "skilled in the art" thought of it either. If they had, they would have patented it. A lack of an existing successful product is considered "objective evidence of nonobviousness," at least in US patent law. (IANAL, but I have recieved an infringement letter.)
      • Is this idea *really* knew for people? I remember talking about this in the late 90s -- I think some devices actually shipped in this configuration as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        No, it's a trivial variation on the existing (patented or not) device. The lack of a patent does not indicate that no one thought of it, or would have. Why does this variant need patent protection of its "investment" in its unique design, so others can't compete with it starting with a full bank account? In fact, that is exactly what this design does, competing with existing designs, deriving its design from their substantial investment.

        Patenting isn't an "I thought of it first" lottery. It's a major except
      • False assumption (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Moraelin ( 679338 )
        You're making the assumption that "if noone patented it, noone thought about it", which is, sad to say, bogus. Some people just don't run to the patent office for each and single triviality.

        In this case, for example, there I can remember at least two cases of phones built just like that. One even made it all the way to being marketted. (Dunno if it actually sold or not, though.) So, yes, other people "skilled in the art" _did_ think of it before. Go figure.
      • If you hadn't thought of it before, then it's not obvious.
        There's the rub-- if the solution is obvious, but the problem obscure, then doesn't the first person to think of an obscure problem get the patent?
  • by Rastignac ( 1014569 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:08AM (#17920810)
    The screen (at the bottom) won't be touched by the ear, so it will stay clean.
    No more dirty sticky traces on the screen !
  • Baseball caps (Score:3, Informative)

    by xs650 ( 741277 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:09AM (#17920830)
    What's next, a patent on wearing baseball caps backwards?

    As another poster said. my 7 year old Garmin MAP12 handheld GPS had the screen on the bottom and buttons on the top.
  • 'Texting' (Score:4, Funny)

    by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:13AM (#17920896) Homepage
    Brought to you for the people who do the most 'texting' (shudder at the term); British teens. So what if you gave one of 'em, when, in a rare moment, they use their phone for its intended purposes, a big push on the phone: they'd press all the buttons at once with their zitty cheecks. You'd have to scrape all that pus out from in between the buttons. Yek.
  • I don't think this is obvious. The common "Why didn't I think of that?" feeling that many people are getting right about now is evidence enough for me. And it's definitely useful for people who text a lot. But has it been done before? I haven't seen anything like it, but I never really paid attention to mobile phones and such. (I know, I know; I'll mail my Geek Card back to HQ)
    • For those of us that do think of things like this (and many others), it is more of a forehead smacking "I wish I could have afforded to patent that idea when I thought of it" moment. I think the requirement for a lawyer and an expensive application fee keeps lots of us would-be inventors from even getting in the game. where did I put those writings about my soylent bulk animal farming aparatus...
      • by Zenaku ( 821866 )
        That's right on. I've had plenty of ideas that were later patented, but unless you actually plan to develop and market the idea yourself, it isn't even worth seeking a patent. The minimum fee to have a qualified patent lawyer write up an application that sufficiently describes the idea and protects all the possible variations of it with well worded claims is about 12K. (This from my buddy the patent lawyer).

        You can write one up yourself, but unless you are really damn good at legalese, it will have holes
  • by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:15AM (#17920916) Homepage
    ...the iPhone can do this in software. :-P
    • by bcmm ( 768152 )
      Can it? The iPhone doesn't allow third-party stuff, remember?
    • Yeah, it probably will, when it comes out. However, most of the other full screen phones already do this, in addition to a landscape mode. Been that way for several years. This patent is worthless.

  • Wow, can you get patents for turning anything upside down? Dibs on the upside-down ping pong ball!
  • Plenty of Prior Art (Score:3, Informative)

    by LordSchnitzel ( 677741 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:17AM (#17920952)
    Here's a phone by B&O that came out in europe two years ago: -olufsens-upside-down-cellphone-210756.php []
  • by neonux ( 1000992 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:31AM (#17921160) Homepage
    "A patent has been filed for the "Upside Down Slashdot" which features the comments on top and the fucking article on the bottom. The idea behind the upside down Slashdot is, apparently, to allow quicker reading by not having to RTFA. A quick check of this seems to confirm the theory, making this one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments."
  • Dated 2007-01-20: 3 0&cid=17697282 []

    What's wrong with the interface? Describe one you think would be better, maybe someone will implement it.

    Okay, I'll gladly bite! Here are a few pet peeves of mine:

    For one, why does the display always have to be 'on top of' the keypad? You have to hold the thing with both hands, or nearly drop the phone while reaching for the * 0 # keys. Instead, flip it around so the display is *below* the keypad. Go on,try it with your own phone, right now (just ignore for now that your keys will be upside down):
    -- One-handed typing will be much easier, as you can hold onto the phone more firmly while typing. Also note how the 'thigh' of your thumb will not obscure the display.
    -- Two-handed speed-texting will be much more 'private' because your thumb's thighs will keep your display hidden from everyone but you (the teens will love this!).

    I've blogged about this before, too (if you can call it that, as it was before "blogging" was called that).

  • If you scan Slashdot from some months back I described this very concept.
    No really I did. Ugh. Geex can you patent anything now? Wheres the prototype?
    The plans, etc.

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      I dont remember if it was you, but I definitely read someones reply on one of the iPhone stories kvetching that they didnt put the keypad at the top of the screen, and I believe they stated they hoped someone made a mod. It was obvious that the person had not -just- thought of the idea, but had wanted it for years.

      According to other posts (and pictures) theres already been at least 1 phone made in this configuration. Its not a new idea.

      Im glad theres prior art to stop this idiotic patent, but I kind of wi

  • bin done (Score:3, Informative)

    by b00le ( 714402 ) <interference.libero@it> on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @11:40AM (#17921278) Homepage
    The Serene phone from Samsung/Bang & Olufsen [] already does this -- even lets you switch configurations.
  • The only problem is that the screen and number pad are also upside-down.
  • Isn't this the default layout down under?

  • Current configuration:

    Let's see:
    Long fingers, short thumbs.
    Fingers cradle phone.
    Thumbs type.

    New configuration:
    Fingers crunch uselessly over the top of the phone.
    Thumbs must curve outwards to prevent screen from being concealed.

    Once again: just because you patent it, doesn't mean its good.

    Sort of like my upside down toilet patent. Just *try* to copy it, I dare you.

    • Human anatomy? Let's do a little test, shall we.

      Put your fingers together and twiddle your thumbs []. Are your thumbs twiddling by your forefingers, or by your little fingers?

      Place the phone supported by all the fingers. Twiddle your thumbs - they're in front of the screen.

    • by elcid73 ( 599126 )
      This doesn't make any sense at all. Do you *really* need to curve your thumbs outward to prevent the screen from being conceled?

      Let's see... according to human anatomy, when my palms are facing in, my thumbs are higher up than the rest of my fingers... ie, they're at the "top" of the hand, It would be nice to hold a device where the top of it was easily in reach of my thumbs while comfortably holding the device.
  • You don't need a special phone for this, once you've practiced a little you'll be used to reading the screen upside down and will find it weird using a phone the conventional way.

    Do i get to claim prior art?
  • For the love of god... I actually had this idea a few years ago. I was playing around with my phone and found it easier to access the keys with the phone upside down. My idea would have the screen offset by a few millimeters so that it wouldn't be obscured by the palm.

    I didn't actually think it was a patent worthy idea. I didn't think much of the idea at all. I guess somebody else has. What a joke.
  • My patent for a phone into which you had to talk backwards to it doesn't seem to generated much capital for me, yet. The idea is that the person you're calling will immediately hear the end of the conversation and know straight away if it was a worthwile conversation or not and thus be able to terminate the call immediately if the conversation didn't end positively for them.
  • *has a pathetic look on face*

    I shoulda got a patent.
  • I've been saying there should be a phone like this for a while (not on /.; IRL). I often dial phone numbers with the phone upside down just because it's so painful to do it the other way.

    However, I think I've seen a phone that has done this before (maybe it was just a prototype).
  • So it's a bit like the Bang & Olufsen "Serene" mobile, then?

    Icky flash-driven official site [] or a review [].
  • by hacksoncode ( 239847 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @03:18PM (#17924416)
    Complaining about the ridiculousness of a pending patent *application* is about as useful as complaining about people spending time thinking of what they'd wish for if they found a bottle with a genie in it.

    So someone thought they had a cool new idea because they hadn't ever seen anything like it and they were wrong... so what? If the patent *issues* then there's something to complain about (though pointing the patent office at the prior art would be a useful public service, unlike whining on Slashdot).

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant