In 2007, Apple unveiled the first iPhone. It featured a revolutionary "pinch" gesture, which found its way into other phones and devices. Likewise, Sony's NPG is ready to shake up the way we interact, just by letting us rub its back.
The NGP features a front OLED touchscreen as well as a rear touchpad. The read touchpad is the same size as the front screen, and thus, enables both a fresh and instinctive take on touch interface.
Pressing the front of the screen is natural, but sometimes, one's fingers just clutter everything up. The rear touchpad nixes that entirely, allowing users to do a reach around. Of sorts.
The concept is not new. In fact, an "odd" iPod patent from several years back shows dual screens and a rear touchscreen.
But Sony is bullish on the tech and is likewise filing a patent for handheld devices, including cell phones. The patent makes it seem as though Sony is not limiting the interface to the NGP, so do not be surprised if it appears on other Sony products.
The read touchpad ended up being an unexpected plus for me when I had hands-on with the NGP in Tokyo. It didn't feel gimmicky, but straightforward and simple. It's "the pinch" of 2011 — and beyond.