Microsoft patent explores potential for touch-sensitive Surface Pen clip

11 best Windows apps for Surface Pen users
11 best Windows apps for Surface Pen users (Image credit: Windows Central)

A patent recently granted to Microsoft points to an interesting new set of touch capabilities for the Surface Pen. As detailed in a patent that was first filed by in 2016 and was recently granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office, (via MSPU), Microsoft details a method for making the Surface Pen's retention clip touch-sensitive.

As described in the patent, this could open up new ways of interacting with a PC connected to the pen. The most obvious use would be to let the clip to act like a mouse's scroll wheel, allowing a user to scroll up and down a page or image with a swipe. That could come in handy if you're trying to use the pen as your only input device, for whatever reason.

Surface Pen Clip Patent

The patent also details a method for implementing a power saving mode with the Surface Pen by using the clip as a way to switch the stylus out of power saving mode when it detects touch.

It's worth noting that patents are filed all of the time for tech and ideas that never see the light of day. There's no guarantee that a touch-sensitive retention clip will make its way to a future Surface Pen, but it's certainly an interesting idea that could add some handy features to the Surface Pen.

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

11 Comments
  • Make for a simple presenter tool. Basically just scrolling through powerpoint slides.
  • My thoughts exactly
  • The current pen already does that.
  • How is Microsoft going to ensure consumers that they will support this device for any amount of time given their recent track record? That is possibly THE biggest question about this device to me. They should also consider offering a very good trade in value for all flagshipish Lumia owners of 920,1020,1520,950's
  • What device are you referring to? The Pen will be supported for the foreseeable future. Until such time that new gesture features become the norm for devices, I don't think you have to worry about pen support any time soon. As for trade-in value, that's just not going to happen. It would be nice, but that would be a huge waste of money. I get it, we've spent money on these devices and now they aren't supported. Now, unless your phone has just stopped working or no longer fits your needs, it still works as a smartphone. If it's in pretty good shape, you could always sell it.
  • I have the pen in my hand all the time. As I'm reading this I find myself naturally sliding my thumb along the clip. It may make sense to use that action for scrolling. At first blush I like the idea..
  • It's raining patents. I wouldn't be surprised if I see the next thing being the foldable Surface's pen.
  • Or better go with a retractable Surface pen. The tip is fragile AF.
  • But the clip is gone now.
  • I don't think it is a good idea. There is not one pen with a pen clip that broke one way or the other. It's a creative idea, but not a practically durable one. Rather than that. I would suggest a turning knob on the surface pen. Being able to turn the  knob 360 degrees could also work as a surrogate scroll or zoom function, with greater scrolling than the limited length of the pen clip. also with a knop-push button combo it could function as a mini surface dial, which would greatly extend the functionality of the pen, as an all-in-one pen device. If microsoft is looking for a true challenge, do that! My idea is patent free if microsoft is reading this. Just get it on the market ASAP. My suggestions after a long experience with digital sytlusses and surface pens:  1. more buttons! I would like to see 2 extra user definable buttons added to the pen device. I would like one button extra to quickly toggle to a default preset default color and line thinckness of the pen. Secondly I would like a second extra button that can be user defined. 2. more commands with the current array of buttons: With the current errasor button I would like toe see: -long press 10 seconds to call for another function. Currently longpress function is limited to 3-5 seconds only. With the current right click button: -I would like to see double click tot select (=enter button) an item or link with the hover function of the pen on the screen. -I would like to see single click and hold on hover of the stylus over the screen to hold a text selection and move the pen on hover to extend that text selection.
  • Yes, a set of functions akin to the wheel in a ring towards the top of the pen would be great.   I have never had a problem with clips breaking, and I use my pen a lot. Haven't heard of anyone at my company having a clip break, either.