Latest Microsoft patent suggests interchangable accessories

I'm not really sure what to make of this, it's as though Microsoft plans to not only provide you with a powerful, simplistic handset, but to throw in some Nintendo Wii Remote-type accessories as well if this patent is anything to go by. Should this indeed turn out to be the case, that all future Windows Phone handsets will have a slide-out accessory expansion slot, then it could open up a whole new realm of opportunity.

From the trusty external keyboard that aids typing to a battery extension to a game pad that gives the user an edge in gaming, I'm sure Microsoft has bags of imagination (as anyone would) surrounding this idea. As for me I'm not one to fuss about moving/interchangeable parts as I'm fully aware that hardware wears out. It's one of the reasons why I adore my Samsung Omnia7 - it's just a block with no moving parts (sliding keyboard etc.).

"A mobile communication device comprises a first device with a first display and multiple second devices. The second devices are releasably attachable to the first device and are interchangeable with each other. The mobile device can operate as a mobile cell phone with one or more second devices operable as a mobile phone hand set. The second devices can comprise one or more game controllers, batteries, physical keyboards and/or mobile phone handsets with a display. In a detached configuration, the first device is separated from the second devices and can wirelessly communicate with one or more of the detached second devices. In a three device configuration, the first device can send commands, control signals or content to one or more external devices in addition to the second devices."

It's interesting to note that the secondary devices (accessories for the smartphones) will be able to work wirelessly without being connected to a handset. Still, I remain skeptical. Let us not forget the integration with Kinect (opens in new tab) we could be experiencing in the future.

Source: Patent (opens in new tab), via: BGR (opens in new tab), Unwired

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • The only way I would ever buy a "slider" type phone is if something like this were released. A keyboard, gamepad, and extended battery all fitting in the same slot? That's amazing. I home Microsoft makes something like this happen, and hopefully it's in market before my contract expires ;).
  • Indeed, I wish this was official so I could decide whether to hold out for such a device to come along or not. I suppose if the accessories were truly Wireless and used Bluetooth, they'd be capable of working with existing devices.
  • Item 1970... Anolog Film????That would be strange.
  • I think 1970 is a sort of second screen? But I LOVE the idea. The game pad and keyboard are awesome already, but then a extended battery? NO WAY this is gonna be on the market because it is to cool for it!
  • or 1970 could be an external HD for movies/media?
  • No idea. That Diagram is so strange. But yeah, interesting product for sure. I have a slide out right now (LG quantum) and I don't think I want one for my next phone. The WP7 touchscreen keyboard is much better than I had expected.
  • This is interesting. I especially like that they are wireless, since I would rather keep my WP as thin and light as possible unless I absolutely need one of those. Maybe a magnetic attachment point like with the iPad? A modular handset would be fantastic.
  • I serously doubt any of them are wireless. It wouldnt make much sense to have a wireless controller for a mobile device. They likely plug in while in the compartment, but are totally interechangable. I think thats still pretty cool.
  • FYI the patent specifically mentions they are (or can be) wireless
  • This is a variation on the two piece phone that Microsoft showed in a future vision video awhile back. @2:15
  • Are you kidding? this is amazing. An extra batery life at hand without interrupting anything and having the phone the same size? sign me **** off.
  • A QWERTY keyboard that swaps out for a gamepad.... OMG count me in !Well, as long as it's not as big as a brick.
  • Imicrosoft much........ next thing you know they gona call it WPkeybore , WPearphones , WPremote .. lol..still a cool idea. specially if they add the use of Wp with xbox live for gamming ect...
  • Why does this remind me of the Wii? Buy the system and get 20 different "enhancing" attachments to make the experience better? Don't get me wrong, it looks cool, but I can see the carriers taking advantage of their customers by over selling "attachments". I hope they (Microsoft) reconsider the idea and put it under....Maybe.
  • I just want another GSM keyboard slider in the US to upgrade to from the Quantum. Is that too much to ask?
  • Man, I've been saying this since I bought my first smartphone over 3 years ago. It's nice to see that someone like Microsoft is interested in at least thinking in this direction.
  • The patent application (#20110230178) lists the following potential attachments:1930-game controller (inc. speaker & microphone)1940-battery1950-physical keyboard (inc. speaker & microphone)1970-display-expansion storage devices (hard drive or solid state)-solar panels for charging or for direct power-medical sensors (surface thermometers, etc.)
  • One word. AWESOME. As long as the phone and slide out is thin and is not bulky I would buy in a heart beat. Added controller pad/buttons. SOLD. I would be very interested in the Physical Keyboard so I can use to type word documents-emails. Extra display-maybe two touchscreens for gaming, movies, etc. Also you mention medical sensor. Great idea! This is genius. I hope this happens, and sooner rather than later. I will have my current win7 phone, and my wife will have her android for 2 years, so I hope by the time we upgrade this will be created.
  • Seems interesting. Anyone remember the LG Versa for Verizon that did something similar? Released in early 2009. I think it died a quick death, but it was a phone with a keyboard accessory (that also doubled as a leather protective case) and a gamepad accessory. It was a featurephone, so not really an apples to apple comparison, but it's a design that's been tried before, and I think it's fair to say that it was a failure for VZW and LG. Although I also think it's fair to say that the LG design was ugly and the accessories didn't really add anything to an already middling featurephone experience.
  • Item 1970 is the solar chip to charge your phone.