Microsoft’s patent envisions foldable mobile device with haptic-based buttons

Andromeda concept
Patent by Harry

The rumours claim that Microsoft is working on a foldable or
dual-screen device. While there’s still no confirmation from
the company itself, a patent published last week shows that
Microsoft’s inventors are exploring a way to implement
haptic-based buttons (power or volume) on the body of the
dual-screen device.

it was published by WIPO on
November 22. The patent was filed by Microsoft in April 2018.
The patent is aimed at electronic devices that include
memory associating a control action with a defined region on an
external surface of the electronic device.

The figures in patent application appear to detail a foldable
device that has piezoelectric actuators embedded in an edge
region and a hinge region to provide haptic feedback responsive
to touch detection.

Foldable phone patent

Microsoft has explained the patented method below:

“An electronic device includes memory associating a control
action with a defined region on an external surface of the
electronic device. A localized haptic feedback response is
provided responsive to detection of initial touch input within
the defined region, and the control action is executed
responsive to detection of a touch direction performed in
association with the defined region following the detection of
the touch input,” Microsoft explains.

The touch-based volume rocker, power or any other buttons (eg
camera) could be implemented on the back of the device and the
sides boundary.

“In other implementations, the UI button regions 104 and 106
are included on a non-display surface of the electronic device,
such as an edge region (as shown) or on a back side of the
electronic device 100,” patent description reads.

Foldable phone patent design

According to the patent application, the users will still be
able to feel the haptic-based buttons with help of vibrations.
A user may drag a finger along the external surface and feel
haptic feedback (e.g., a vibration).

“In one implementation, the haptic feedback IC 110 provides
localized haptic feedback in regions that may be felt within or
close to the UI button regions 104 and 106 but not felt in
other areas along the external surface 108. For example, a user
may slide a finger along the external surface 108 and feel a
vibration or other sensation when the finger crosses a boundary
of one of the UI button regions 104 and 106,” the patent

In November, a bunch of Microsoft’s foldable phone-related
patents were published online. For example,
a dual-screen patent with the ability to display 3D
representation was published earlier this month. Another
patent for a
foldable device with the advanced audio system was detailed
this month.

The patents are exciting and they do seem to detail the design
of future devices. However, a patent application does
not guarantee that Microsoft will turn this into a working
product. Microsoft and other tech giants have filed multiple
patents in the past which never turned into a consumer product.

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