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.
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.