Google was awarded a design patent today on an interesting looking interface, in a patent titled Display device showing user interface.
Design patents sometimes leave you guessing as to what it is that you are actually looking at, and they can appear somewhat unusual.
With two sliders, and what seems to be a circular area where different choices could be selected, this design from Google looks somewhat mysterious. Upon seeing it, I wondered if it were something from a phone:
The Patent listed a number of references to other interfaces, which were also misleading. One was an electronic horoscope game from Mattel. Another was a watch dial from 1928. Three others were display icons for computer screens, like one from Apple Computer.
A little digging around provided an answer to how this is used. One of the inventors listed, Beth Ellyn O’Mullan, was a User Experience Design Lead on Google Earth at the time that the patent was filed.
She’s also one of the inventors listed on a patent application for an Embedded navigation interface. That describes how this interface is used in more detail. You can see it clearly in this Google Earth image shown in that patent application.
Ok, so it’s not something new from a “Google Phone.”