Microsoft’s latest patent hints at a mobile computing device with thumb and pen interaction support

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Lumia and pen
Image Courtesy: WindowsCentral

Another patent by Microsoft suggests that the software maker is
working on a mobile computing device (phone, tablet or
notebook) that will support thumb and pen interaction. It’s yet
another patent and there’s no guarantee that this technology
would ever make it to the market.

The patent titled “THUMB AND PEN INTERACTION ON A MOBILE
DEVICE” was published by USPTO on
August 23 and it was filed back in February 2017. It’s an
advanced device and the patent suggests that Microsoft might
working on adjacent technologies that would compete with the
leaders on the market.

“Mobile computing devices have recently begun supporting
simultaneous pen and touch technology. Unfortunately, because
of their mobility, mobile computing devices are subjected to a
more diverse operating environment. As a result, users of
mobile computing devices often have more difficulty compared to
conventional desktop computing devices or wall-mounted
computers users, who are able to freely use two hands for
bimanual interactions. In contrast, the mobile computing device
users may include users with limited access to both hands,
having to engage the device with one hand and manipulate
content with the other, such as, for example, a doctor using a
mobile computing device for taking notes on a patient’s chart,
a passenger on a train, a person reclined on the couch, or a
person at the park. In many situations, a supporting surface is
unavailable or the mobile device must be supported for
stability, which places several users at a disadvantage or
actively hinders the use of bimanual input,” Microsoft writes
in the background section of the patent application.

Microsoft patent for pen integration

Microsoft has explained the patented technology below:

“Thumb+pen inputs are described herein, to improve the
functionality of touch enabled devices for accepting bimanual
input in situations where the device is gripped or supported by
one of the user’s hands, leaving only one hand free. The thumb
of an engaging hand is identified and controls are placed
within its range of motion to enhance the functionality
provided by the free hand. The actions of the thumb can be used
to determine how pen actions made using the other hand are
interpreted. Alternatively, the pen can indicate an object
through pointing, while the thumb indirectly manipulates one or
more of its parameters through touch controls. Marking menus,
spring-loaded modes, indirect input, and conventional
multi-touch interfaces are applied with respect to the bimanual
input mode in which one hand is positioned to hold or support
the device, and the other hand is free to improve device
operability and accessibility”.



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