Here's how Microsoft tested Surface Neo and Duo for comfort, productivity

Surface Neo
Surface Neo (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A newly leaked video looks behind the curtain at some of the research that went into designing Surface Neo and Surface Duo.
  • Microsoft used a set of wrist sensors to measure tension while using the dual-screen devices.
  • The company also employed EEG tests to measure how productive people were with two screens compared to one.

A presentation apparently leaked from within Microsoft this weekend offers an interesting look at the research that went into developing the Surface Neo and Surface Duo. Specifically, the presenter showed how Microsoft used a combination of wrist sensors and electroencephalograms (EEG) to measure the comfort and productivity of using dual-screen devices. The video appeared on Twitter over the weekend from prominent Microsoft leaker WalkingCat.

With the wrist sensors, the presenter explains that Microsoft measured the hand and arm tension while working with Surface Neo and Surface Duo to determine how easy it is to hold. Beyond that, Microsoft measured brain activity to determine that productivity increased when using a dual-screen device when compared to a single-screen device.

"So that's where we found out that in a dual-screen, we saw even that there's more neural activity in the brain going on and you can process things better when you're using a dual-screen device," the presenter explains.

This type of research is something Microsoft has turned to for more than just Surface devices. The company has also engaged in research to improve the Xbox Series X controller (opens in new tab) so that it can be used by a wider range of hand sizes. That's in addition to the work it has done with the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

Surface Duo and Surface Neo are expected to launch later in 2020. Both were announced with holiday 2020 launch dates, but recent reporting indicates that Surface Neo and its operating system, Windows 10X, may be delayed beyond 2020. Surface Duo could see an earlier launch this summer.

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

  • I still hope Duo is offered through att, and Verizon, and any other major retailer, but I doubt it will be. I'd rather continue paying for it monthly with my current plan. It's time to trade in this Note9.
  • Does Microsoft not already have finance options for Surface devices?
  • While I don't know if it applies to the Duo, Surface All-Access is the financing option
  • I don't know, but we need a fund raiser to put you on the next rocket to Mars, so you'd disappear. Even better, there's no atmosphere, so that's that. 🙄
  • @rodneyej You've had several obscene and violent posts directed at bleached removed and now you're stating you want him to die.
    You really are a hate filled person. What happened to you to make you like that.
  • @kojackjku People who post such vile things need to be called out and reported to the moderators. There needs to be zero tolerance for such anti-social behaviour.
  • I have always wanted to be an astronaut, but I have bad eyes. I would never pass the tests.
  • Pathetic... to say the least.
  • Oh, goody! Another “newly leaked video” from WalkingCat.
  • LOL "Wrist sensors and EEGs apparently played a big part in developing Surface Neo and Surface Neo."
    Wasn't used for the Surface Duo? Correction required?
  • At least we know that proofreading a GD headline - forget about the article - before publishing STILL does not play ANY part here. 🙄 Seriously, is NO ONE embarrassed by this? NO ONE caught this and corrected it?
  • Really? Is it that heinous of a crime? Sure they missed the correct wording. But I'm sure you got their meaning once you started to read the article. It's not that big of a deal. Well, at least for me it isn't. It's all good. :)
  • why wouldn't more brain activity mean you're brain is having to work twice as hard, and thus being less efficient and productive?
  • I am also curious about the rationale for this.
  • I mean, you could argue that it means people aren't just mindless zombies when they use the device like with phones... there's always a silver lining.
  • I guess this is interesting, but it is really no surprise. Microsoft deeply tests hardware usability and software interfaces all the time. I've been part of several of those under NDA's. My favorite, which is so old now I'm sure I can reveal it, was testing the first Xbox wireless controller.
  • I respect Microsoft for making productivity a priority. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter design things so to maximize your time in the app; so therefor can push more ads to you. They use psychology of addiction to feed unpredictable rewards and keep you hooked. That makes Microsoft much more noble in my eyes. I like to get things done on my computer; not burn time as manipulated by corporate tech giants.
  • I have two questions about the Duo. First: Will Microsoft be able to break free of the limited OS updates that many Android smartphones (Samsung in particular) receive? Second: (This was alluded to by rodneyej) Will the Duo be made available for Verizon Wireless customers? 🤔 Microsoft...essentially...walked away from Verizon Wireless after the introduction of the Lumia 735. The Lumia 550, 650, 950 & 950XL were never submitted for CDMA certification, and, the Verizon Wireless compatible HP Elite X3 was introduced after Microsoft had pulled the plug on Windows 10 Mobile.
  • I almost forgot about the HP Elite X3. I wonder how HP and companies that bought them feel about the devices after Microsoft pulled the plug so quickly. Prior to the downfall of W10M, a friend that works with product documentation of some sort for HPE mentioned they actually sold fairly well. I'm curious if companies will even consider the Surface Duo for enterprise deployment after Microsoft abruptly killed W10M. I remember my company had deployed Microsoft Lumia 950 phones for management then eventually switched to deploying iPhones after the W10M nixing.
  • The HP Elite X3 really sold well? I always thought it was overpriced compared to the 950 xl. I did like the idea of the extra's HP offered; like the laptop dummy and the dock. Never really understood why MS did not let wm10 go down slowly, would have been more fair to wp users and provide a smoother transition to the Duo etc.
  • Happy about all this testing but for me the key questions are
    1. Will the chip support deep integration with my Resound hearing aids as do the newest Samsung phones and virtually all Apple phones after S4.
    2. Will the chip support 5 G. If not my next up to date phone will be purchased from Apple or Samsung.
    Option 1 is to use Samsung due to its better PC integration.
    Option 2 would be an Apple phone when they support 5G. This will probably bring on the replacement of my PC with its Apple equivalent as that will also support all the Apple Apps in due course.
    Roger Stenson
  • Does anyone have the paper and sample size number of test subjects that underwent EEG and wrist monitoring?