Dell Inspiron 13 unfoldedSource: Windows Central

What you need to know

  • A patent by Dell shows a foldable PC with a flexible display.
  • The patent includes rolling components within a hinge.
  • Patents for a similar device were revealed in September.

A new patent by Dell shows technology that could be used in a foldable PC with a flexible display. Patent number 10,429,903 B2 was filed on September 18, 2018, and the date of patent is October 1, 2019. WindowsUnited first spotted the patent which includes unique rolling elements within a hinge that reduce potential damage to a flexible display.

At first glance, the hinge looks similar to that of the Surface Book. It has several components that fold around an axis to have two halves of a device come together. A key difference, however, is that this patent is for a foldable device with a flexible screen. The hinge also includes parts that rotate to reduce damage to a flexible screen.

A system and method are provided which substantially reduce the disadvantages and problems associated with previous methods and systems for managing flexible display movements related to rotationally coupled housing portions of an information handling system. One or more hinges rotationally couple housing portions that rotate relative to each other between a planar configuration and a closed configuration. A flexible display, such as an OLED film disposed across the housing portions and hinge, folds as the housing portions rotate from a planar to closed configuration. A display frame structure interacts with the hinge during rotation of the housing portions to manage flexible display fold radius so that damage does not occur to the flexible display.

Patent for potential folding Dell PCSource: United States Patent and Trademark Office

The patent later goes into further detail about the rolling components:

The display frame structure adapts to the changed relative position with the housin gportions by sliding relative to the housing portions. Roller assemblies on opposing ends of the housing portions manage sliding motion of the display frames relative to housing portions.

Patent for potential folding PC from DellSource: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Flexible displays are the dream of many manufacturers but have limitations caused by the nature of folding something. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Fold has a visible seam in it. The technology shown off in this patent might reduce that somewhat, as internal components could rotate and move into a position that could reduce a similar issue from occurring.

Patents for a similar device from Dell appeared in September of this year. There's a chance that these technologies are related, or that one is an evolution of the concept within the other.

As is the case with all patents, these technologies may never be part of a product that releases to the general public. Companies frequently patent ideas and designs that don't end up in products.