The trusty touchpad – the mechanism that allows us to use a mouse pointer on laptops without having to plug in a physical mouse – could be about to make its way onto our smartphones.
Google submitted a patent a year ago which has only now come to light, showing its idea of placing a touch-sensitive surface on the rear of a smartphone.
In the filing, Google says "it would be advantageous to have an improved touch sensitive surface that offers additional modes of operation".
This rear-facing touchpad would then adapt its functions depending on what you have open on screen. If you’re in a music player, for example, it could be a volume control, while it might act as a scroll or zoom tool when web browsing.
Not this year
We've already seen Huawei (and Google) add touch gestures to fingerprint scanners – allowing you to pull down the notification bar with a swipe over it – so the progression to a larger touch-sensitive area is certainly plausible.
It's unlikely that we'll see Google act on this patent in the short term, with the rumored Pixel 2 almost certain not to benefit for the search giant's latest patent pick-up.
There's also the chance Google may never implement the technology on its own handsets, instead licensing it out to other manufacturers to use on their phones.