What makes you think Sony is "touting" this gadget, just because they've patented some nonsense? Surely they won't be touting it for a few years yet - if ever?
"Well, if the invention were used as a phone, then it’s possible that several digital pixels could be put on either side of the main touchscreen and be used as menu shortcuts."
Eh? Are phones the only devices that have menus now? And besides, if menu items are being displayed on the "main touchscreen", surely by far the most natural way to select an item is to, er... _touch_ it?