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A new Surface patent looks to add digital inking to the back of your device

Microsoft has been exploring a range of external interaction solutions for its Surface devices as of late, including touch detection and inking on the mythical Surface "Andromeda" device. This new patent (spotted by Digital Trends) specifically showcases a Surface Pro, complete with "unused space" on the exterior shell being utilized for inking purposes.

"Some implementations of the disclosed technology further integrate touch sensing technology to facilitate use of the reflective external surface as an interactive writing surface. For example, a user may draw on the reflective external surface with a finger or stylus and the underlying display may selectively illuminate pixels at corresponding locations of the light-emitting display."

The patent goes into some detail to describe how different layers of the device could be utilized to feedback inking and touch information, placed on areas such as the back of your device or either side of the trackpad, which are typically used as wrist rests and little else. It seems Microsoft intends to further increase the versatility of their Surface devices through the use of these methods, as competitors muscle in on Redmond's 2-in-1 turf.

As always, patents don't necessarily translate into tangible products, but the ability to sketch a quick sticky note next to the trackpad or on the back of the device while it's in a sleep state seems pretty compelling to me. We'll keep an eye on this one.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

15 Comments
  • This is really neat and opens up a lot of potential. Heck, I think inking on the touchpad would be nice. Depending on the touchpad size of course. The Surface Go touchpad is a great size as an example.
  • Andromeda
  • Just give the Andromeda device! That's all I ask for, please Panos.
  • Comparing the size of the pen to the device, this whole unit looks Andromeda sized. Why does everybody jump to Surface Pro? Andromeda could have a kickstand as well!
  • Surface Go sized also..
  • Cool! This would be awesome, and also Apple can't copy it cause it is patented now.
  • They probably can as long as they find a different way to do it. Microsoft will also probably give them a license for a small amount of money because right now short term monetary success seems to be the thing at MS.
  • It would be cool to design some cool illustrations on it for display. (instead of an apple logo lighting up on back)
  • Windows Vista gadgets return.
  • Not sure I follow. What do you mean? I don't see what one has to do with the other.
  • Microsoft proposed new device category at the time with the following... laptops with dual screen, a small notification screen when the lid is closed. Keyboards with same notification lcd screen. These notifications were configured through software they called 'gadgets' at the time.
    When you installed vista, gadgets were mounted to the right of the desktop. Gadgets were essentially what is called widgets today in android.
  • It was called SideShow.
  • Interesting, hopefully in time they can refine this and fit it into the kick stand as well lol. There by increasing the real estate accessible for inking.
  • Hmm I think this tech will benefit a lot of Microsoft devices users. the next Big Tech
    device Microsoft should make is a Type cover that is a full touch screen in the area
    where the type cover's Keyboard is. it could be configured as keyboard that changes
    into a a Game controller, editor controller for video or sound editors, a factory
    Machine's controller. Military devices controller. Nuclear power plant devices
    monitor & control
    device. Sharp developers could make the extra touch screen on a Surface "Go" or
    Surface Pro 6 Tablet/Laptop do amazing things
  • I really wish Microsoft didn't give up on Windows Phone 📱, I think about it every time I use my Note 8. Note series are great, but Windows Phone is just so refreshing and I haven't gotten that on Android or any other OS yet. It still looks more futuristic than other OS's today.