Another patent filing emerges for Microsoft's rumored folding Surface device

In recent weeks, we've seen a number of Microsoft patent filings for a folding tablet-style device pop up, potentially giving us an early look at Microsoft's rumored Andromeda device. Showing no signs of slowing down, another patent filing recently surfaced (via Windows Latest), documenting a hinge mechanism for a dual-display device.

Titled "hinge with free-stop function," the patent shows how a folding device could rotate 360 degrees with the ability to stop at any point in the rotation. Parhaps more interestingly, however, the patent filing describes Microsoft's rationale for pursuing dual-display devices going forward. According to the filing, dual-display devices are meant to address the demand for larger screen sizes as modern phones continue to expand their features. From Microsoft:

Along with these enhanced capabilities has come a demand for larger displays to provide a richer user experience. Mobile phone displays have increased in size to the point where they can now consume almost the entire viewing surface of a phone. To increase the size of displays any further would require an increase in the size of the phones themselves. This is not desirable, as users want their mobile phone to fit comfortably in their hand or in a shirt or pants pocket.As a result, dual-display devices are becoming more popular. With a dual-display device, the mobile phone or tablet can include an open, expanded position where both displays are flush so that the user feels like there is a single integrated display. In a closed, condensed position, both displays are face-to-face so as to protect the displays. In a fully-open position, the dual displays can sit back-to-back so the user needs to flip the device to view the opposing display.

According to the filing, hinges for such a device present a problem, particularly for thin devices. Microsoft attempts to address potential roadblocks, like protrusions and flimsy connections, with a selection of hinge concepts included in the filing.

Hinge Patent

It's worth keeping in mind that this, and other recent patents, represent filings for things that we may ultimately never see in a finished product on store shelves. However, as speculation heats up on a potential folding Surface device that could be a revival of sorts of Microsoft's canceled Courier tablet, each patent is an interesting look at what could be coming down the pike.

If you're more interested in seeing what a finished product might resemble, a designer recently showed off a sleek 3D concept of a device based off of the recent patent filings.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • So let's call it Surface Patent
  • I'm good with that.. "Surface Patent" it is.
  • Surface Fold...
  • Nope! Rodneyej basically just agreed to drop the Surface Scribe name, let's not push it! =P
  • 😍😍😍
    Well, that's just to keep y'all quiet. I still like Surface Scribe🤫
  • Call it Surface DOA. 
  • Perfection... These patents make me feel like a crack feind... Mouth watering. Cold sweats. And, Microsoft is the dope man.. SMDH
  • It just means I might really have something I want for Christmas next year.  :)
  • Maybe so.. Only time will tell.. I'd say I'm about 60% sure this device will make it to market, at this point. So, there's still plenty of chance it might not get the go ahead.. But, I personally believe that it has a better chance than not.
  • If it’s not a phone replacement, nor a laptop replacement, then what is it? Why would anybody use it, with there being no apps and all?
  • It's a smaller Surface that can fold and fit in your pocket that can also make phone calls. Why the negativity?
  • Yeah, you're right.... Windows has been around for 25 years, and there's no apps.. Amazing it lasted that long without no useful purpose. Why in the world would anyone use Windows...... Why don't you ask yourself your own question?
  • Windows has apps for small touchscreens?! Since when?
  • Since the day you started trolling, that's when.
  • We didn't have small touchscreens in the '80s.
  • Nice one Bleached! Glad I wasn't drinking anything. Lots of trolling experience in this one.
  • Not on phones, they didn't, but you were definitely trolling on the speak and spell.... ****** pathetic.
  • Windows Central, Messenger, OneNote, Store, Xbox, StartScreen, FileExplorer ver.UWP,etc
    If you are a programmer with a logic, you'd know how to test'em.
  • Good luck using Win32 apps on a small screen.
  • Face palm🤦🏽🤦🏽🤦🏽🤦🏽
    Stuck in the past, Troll
  • In the future, our fingers will evolve to be really pointy and be pressure sensitive.
  • That last one😂
  • Windows Central, Messenger, OneNote, Store, Xbox, StartScreen, FileExplorer ver.UWP,etc, win32 apps?
  • A win10pc in your pocket and you can
    1. docking it on a gamepad for XPA gaming.
    2. OneDrive on Demand so that you can store more files than HDD can handle.
    3. Inking
    4. quick draft.
    5. occasional Photoshop.
    6. I prob won't be able to run Visual Studio with Unreal, Unity, Havok+Dx but I can certainly do some light UWP programming.
    7. etc.
  • I saw a herd of Unicorns grazing in our front yard this morning.
  • I'm sure you won't reply to this, because most trolls never do... Are you saying that patents have have never pointed to a final product? And, are you saying that this amount of work by MS is an indicator that something most likely "isn't" coming?
  • We can easily point to several Microsoft devices that were complete and ready to ship but never did. We haven't even seen a prototype yet. No guarantee such a device will ship. Microsoft's apparent abandonment of UWP doesn't put much faith into their dedication to a small touchscreen device.
  • I like butter on my toast? Do you like strawberry, or grape jelly on yours?
    You should probably know that my socks are green today. No, it's not Saint Patrick's, silly. I just like green socks. Here, have a cup of bean bag soup. It's Um Um good!😋
  • You know nothing about development, right? Considering you say Microsoft has abandoned UWP. If you had any clue at all, you would know that it gets updated and expanded rapidly.
  • Then why don't they release apps for it?
  • Because building the ecosystem is more important? They update their apps almost on a daily basis.
  • I like the idea of having a device that adapts to use, much like the Surface concept. I don't dislike the concept of folding screens. I'm a bit concerned with durability of the hinge mechanism on one hand, and on the other hand, the "two screens on the outside" configuration sounds dangerously frail, though it's the one that would be more useful to carry it and use it as a phone, as it's much more instant and better than to have to open it as often as you look at your current phone's screen .
  • Well, like all things new, the first few versions won't be perfect.. Touch screens weren't perfect at all when the first appeared on devices... Just let the engineers work thier magic. They usually please.
  • 1000$ minimum
  • Expected... But, if other OEM'S follow they could undercut MS with some really nice, and less expensive devices.... And, that's exactly what MS want's.
  • What OEM is going to put that much effort into a hinge and then waste it on another small Windows device? Android has a full ecosystem and support for such a device, assuming that form factor is even desirable. None of the previous attempts have been.
  • Android just isn't good, which also shows on annual sales numbers on devices in this size-range. I would much rather use some nice Linux distro than Android on any device and especially in the 6"+ size. That is why a Windows Core-device with a smaller screen than a Surface would be excellent for most people who do work on their devices.
  • Don't give him that much thought. I don't even read his comments past his name..... Dude has a bottom of the line, off brand Android phone. He knows even a 950 with no apps is cooler than his device. You know he's scared that WP fans are gonna get a bad ass Surface device.... Maybe if he got paid enough flipping burgers he could afford something he could be proud of, and stop trolling. But, he can't, so here we are.
  • "Android just isn't good"  And Windows 3.1 was when it took over the market?  Nothing shown indicates any change of market direction...  Sure there's lots of wishin-and-hopin but that wont bake the cake.  
  • Is there anywhere still out there trusting Microsoft with supporting any kind of new mobile device? Even if this sees the light of day, it will die within a year. But maybe it will give good ideas for others to implement properly. It seems that's the only thing Microsoft is good for these days
  • Probably not.. No. Just a few of us. Lol
  • I see windows laptops everywhere, all the time.
  • Regretably I just don't think any mobile (phone type device) that Microsoft puts out will thrive. It's just my humble opinion but I think most users of phones use apps for most things. Microsoft still suffers from almost zero apps. When it comes to any type of phone device Microsoft just doesn't stand a chance. I do wish they were able to fix their app gap issue because I really liked the Microsoft Mobile 10 OS. More secure and stable. When it comes to Microsoft I'll continue enjoying their products on my desktop and laptop. I will keep my eyes open in case by some miricle MS gets to 12% mobile market share, then I'll consider jumping back in.
  • You wrote all of that, and it's useless, because MS is not making a damn phone.
    We have plenty of smartphones on the market to take care of what you're talking, so your comment is a non issue. Back to the drawing board for you.
  • obviously their are developing the device and still not yet decide the best way to make the hinge, i don't think it will come out anytime soon...
  •  Monday the 12th.
  • I like the optimism.  I find it better to carry to types of OS in order to stop this thing versus this thing.  I will continue to support WIndows mobile as my main driver for phone usage and texting and social.  Android as snapchat.  that's basically all i need on android. LOL.
  • Eh, it seems like everyone has a folding device patent nowadays and they are all boring.
  • Microsoft's best foldable device play is extracting roalyties from everyone that makes one.  Call it a phone or call it a rose, it will meet the same fate when MS releases one... wilted and dead quicker than a bouquet of flowers. 
  • Let's call it another waste of time and money.  It won't even be as successful as the Windows phones.
  • Maybe they'll need a tax writedown...