Microsoft patents a modular and foldable Surface device

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Image Courtesy: Harry and Michael West

We have seen glimpses of two dual-screen devices from Microsoft
in the past few months, and the company is planning to push
things even forward with its improved magnetic-based hinge
system for future dual-screen hardware.

A new filing from the US Patent and Trademark Office gives us
some idea about what such a device from Microsoft might look
like. A patent tiled “Hinged device” was published by
USPTO on May 14, 2020, and it was spotted by us earlier today.

In the filing, Microsoft has revealed how it could use the
magnetic elongate magnetic hinge assembly to bring two display
together on dual-screen hardware so that they’re synced,
rotatable, and modular.

The Redmond company notes that the patented device includes two
portions that can be rotatably secured by a magnetic hinge
assembly. The hinge assembly includes two portions with
magnets, and Microsoft says it will use ferromagnetic material,
such as iron, that is attracted to the magnets of the assembly.

Detachable foldable device

Interestingly, Microsoft added that the user can pull the first
and second portions apart to use them separately. Detachability
is currently offered on Surface Book lineup, but you cannot use
the second portion (keyboard) as a screen.

“Further, the user can separate the device portions and use
them individually. As such, from one perspective, the present
magnetic hinge assembly implementations can be viewed as
virtual hinges,” Microsoft noted.

Microsoft believes that this configuration could also prevent
damage to the magnetic hinge sub-assemblies. For example, the
reduced gaps between the two portions and the material of the
surroundings will prevent dust and stones from entering the
first and second portions where they could interfere with the
hinge and break the device.

According to the patent, magnetic hinge sub-assemblies will
also offer aesthetically pleasing appearance.

In addition, the magnetic hinge assembly will still allow hinge
ends to rotate against one another to enable rotation of up 180
degrees.

It’s worth noting that patents may not end up turning into an
actual product, but it gives us some idea of what Microsoft is
planning for next-gen foldable devices.

We know that Microsoft has been thinking about dual-screen and
modular devices for ten years at least, and it’s likely that
we’ll more foldable or dual-screen hardware from the Redmond
tech giant next year.

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