Just around a week ago, Microsoft published two new patents for its foldable mobile device detailing a key imaging feature designed by ex-Nokia engineers. And now, yet another patent of the foldable device has been published by Redmond, giving us the best look yet at its “Andromeda” device.
A couple of patents for the foldable device has been published by Microsoft so far, all of which revolve around the hinge design of the device. It’s no secret that Microsoft’s Surface team loves their hinge designs, and Andromeda will probably have a fancy hinge as well. The latest patent, first spotted by MSPU, similarly focuses on the “self-regulating” hinge of the device, detailing all the technical aspects of the seemingly tiny hinge design that Microsoft is working on.
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Microsoft goes into a lot of technicalities on the patent application as it’s supposed to do. But the simple thing you need to understand is that the self-regulating hinge effectively connects the two portions (“surface”) of the device, and you will be able to use the device in a couple of different modes thanks to the hinge. One mode will let you place the device on flat surfaces (no pun intended), letting you view content like movies, videos, pictures, etc. on both the displays.
The bezel between the two surfaces/displays notably seems incredibly tiny, almost non-existent, which could allow for an amazing viewing experience. The design looks elegant from the patent, but it’s unlikely Microsoft will be able to pull off such a spectacular display design with the first version of the product.
There’s another eye-catching mode where the second portion of the device seems to display a virtual keyboard and trackpad, kind of like the Lenovo Yoga Book, allowing you to use the device as a regular laptop. And then there’s the regular viewing mode where you can just watch something or check the time, weather, notifications on the primary display of the device.
Microsoft is still believed to be working on its foldable mobile device, and the final product won’t likely show up before the end of next year or early 2019. Microsoft has been rumoured to be working on a foldable device for years, but we are starting to get a comprehensive idea of what the real deal would look like thanks to these new patents.
<p>One should always keep in mind that patents are often sought as a way to impede the competition without any direct plans to create a product based on them. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#227900"><em>In reply to nbplopes:</em></a></blockquote><p>The American Patent scheme is a mess. The original intent was to promote innovation by giving an individual a temporary monopoly that allowed them to benefit from their invention. Today it allows large corporations to stifle innovation by allowing them a monopoly on ideas that they have no intention to implement.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#227900"><em>In reply to nbplopes:</em><strong><em> "It looks like a PSION Computer with dual display."</em></strong></a></blockquote><p>Never mind the PSION, I owned the<strong> HP 200LX Palmtop PC</strong> back in the mid-1990s, similar in design to the PSION, but with the capability of running x86 software applications under MS-DOS 5.0, due to it possessing an Intel-compatible 80186 CPU.</p><p><br></p><p>With the addition of a CompactFlash card, the beloved HP 200LX could execute Windows 3.0, allowing the then version of Microsoft Office to run (well there was no Access or Outlook back in those days, but Word v1 and Excel v2 for Windows executed fine).</p><p><br></p><p>So the "Surface Foldable" is in essence Microsoft's blast from the past reincarnated for 2018/2019, but with an ARM SoC.</p>
<p>From the initial comments here and those reported elsewhere, it never ceases to amaze me how technophiles continue to lambast and pour scorn onto Microsoft regardless of the direction pursued, even when Microsoft's share price currently trades at historic highs.</p><p><br></p><p>Had this been a patent filed by those in the Cupertino Orchard, the World would have greeted the prospect of a foldable device with great fanfare, rejoicing that the Steve Jobs-esque innovative streak has returned to the fruity company, which has under the stewardship of Steve Jobs' successor thus far failed to deliver inspirational devices.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#227942"><em>In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:</em></a></blockquote><p>You're over-generalizing. Criticism of Microsoft, Apple or Google isn't necessarily endorsing the others. Yes, Apple fans in particular seem to be be less likely to acknowledge problems with their products IMO, but not all Apple users are like that and the same is true for users of the other companies' products. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#227948"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>You appear not to have followed my train of thought, for my discussion was concerning comments/opinions related to a unreleased Microsoft product, which may or may not exist.</p><p><br></p><p>Your comment however, was in relation to products that have come to market and are retailing.</p><p><br></p><p>Therein lies the prejudicial view of today's technological media concerning all things Microsoft, for even the humble black-and-white mock-up sketches get castigated.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#228013"><em>In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:</em></a></blockquote><p>I suggest read your own posts more carefully. Nothing you said restricted your criticism to comments "related to a unreleased Microsoft product". You also referenced Microsoft's current share price which, of course, has nothing to do with the future. </p><p><br></p><p>If you wish readers to "follow your train of thought" you should work harder to express it more accurately in your posts.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#228040"><em>In reply to skane2600:</em></a></blockquote><p>The very fact that this article is discussing a patent and a handful of images of a possible Microsoft device, in addition to my initial comment in the second paragraph where I stated, "Had this been a patent filed by those in the Cupertino Orchard, the World would have greeted the prospect of a foldable device with great fanfare", clearly and unequivocally implies that "my discussion was concerning comments/opinions related to a unreleased Microsoft product, which may or may not exist".</p><p><br></p><p>It is incumbent upon the reader not to pick and choose to read selected parts of a comment in order to twist the writer's intended meaning. Rather, it is advised the reader ensures the comment is read in full, taking the commentary that both precedes and succeeds the section of comment with which the reader finds troublesome.</p><p><br></p><p>In addition, referencing Microsoft's current share price has everything to do with the future, contrary to your misinformed belief. If traders and shareholders feel positive about any given publicly traded company, it's a sure sign the board of directors are steering the entity in a positive direction, thereby signaling an upward growth trajectory for the business, allowing for example, future acquisitions of both small nimble start-ups that possible have a technological advance over their larger rivals (some recent notable ones including, e.g. 6 Wunderkinder GmbH, Acompli, SwiftKey), and larger ones such as LinkedIn.</p><p><br></p><p>Whilst on the topic of acquisitions, in recent weeks there have been media speculation concerning a possible acquirement of Qualcomm by Microsoft. I must stress these are merely hopes by diehard fanbois of the non-existant Microsoft "Surface Phone" rather than anything substantive. With Windows on ARM devices not yet released, though some Snapdragon 835 devices announced, such ideas are ludicrous, for we wouldn't want a sequel to NokiaGate.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#228147"><em>In reply to Locust Infested Orchard Inc.:</em></a></blockquote><p>You started with a general comment about people gushing over Apple products but not Microsoft's. The fact that you made additional comments that specifically related to the patent application doesn't modify the earlier comment unless you specifically clarify it.</p><p><br></p><p>Taken what you say at face value, I guess you don't believe that people are giving Apple preferential treatment except when evaluating products not yet in production.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#227962"><em>In reply to Waethorn:</em></a></blockquote><p>One has to bear in mind that Microsoft was primarily founded as a software company, when in 1982 it formed a hardware division primarily for tasking itself to design a mouse for Word. As their human interface devices gained in popularity, particularly with their award-winning mouse and keyboard designs, the hardware division kept expanding.</p><p><br></p><p>No one can doubt the success of the Xbox, and with the recent launch of the Xbox One X, it should surpass sales of Sony's aging PlayStation 4 Pro.</p><p><br></p><p>The Surface range of devices was launched as an exemplar to OEMs at a time when the PC market was in decline from growing usage and demand of smartphones. It can be said the Surface range fulfilled its mission in advocating how OEMs ought to construct laptops and tablets of exquisite quality. Clearly the likes of HP and Lenovo have since built beautifully crafted devices, thereby reigniting consumer's desire to own a Windows device.</p><p><br></p><p>Now Microsoft are attempting to reinvigorate and transform the portable, pocket-able, handbag-able always-connected devices, by bringing a PC desktop functionality and capability for on-the-go work or pleasure. The tried and tested PSION and<strong> </strong>HP 200LX Palmtop PC/PDA design has been a productivity boon to many in the past, so why reinvent the wheel when a winning formula has already existed though is no longer being utilised.</p><p><br></p><p>From what I can elude to from this article's patent designs by Microsoft, if previous devices of similar design received plaudits due to their functionality, then there's no reason to anticipate a revamped Microsoft design would be a failure.</p>
<p>This looks remarkably similar to the venture Gemini, croudfunded on Indiegogo by Martin Riddiford, the designer of the classic British pocket computer the Psion Series 3 and Series 5 keyboards, and co-founder of Therefore.</p><p><br></p><p>From the croudfunded site, it states, "Gemini is an ultra-thin clamshell mobile device with fully integrated tactile QWERTY keyboard, that fits in your pocket. Designed for Android, it also features a dual boot Linux option. Gemini is fully equipped with 4G, WiFi & Bluetooth enabling both data communications and mobile phone calls."</p><p><br></p><p>Gemini was 284% funded on April 9, 2017, having raised $1,001,799 in funds. It sells at $399.</p><p><br></p><p>More info at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gemini-pda-android-linux-keyboard-mobile-device-phone</p>
<blockquote><a href="#228095"><strong><em>In reply to JG1170: "Nobody wants to type on a keyboard that small."</em></strong></a></blockquote><p>Course you're right, course you're right, (as I stroke my chin), nobody wants to type on a small keyboard, hence why BlackBerries dominated sales in the noughties.</p><p><br></p><p>Besides your argument is flawed from the outset, for billions of people globally use the on-screen keyboard of their smartphones.</p><p><br></p><blockquote><a href="https://www.thurrott.com/hardware/147530/latest-patent-gives-best-look-microsofts-foldable-androdmeda-device-yet#228095" target="_blank"><strong><em>In reply to JG1170: "Any 'micro clamshell' design is DOA"</em></strong></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>This yet to be announced device is not a "micro clamshell", it's a bi-fold ~6" device when closed, so upon opening, it reveals a glorious large display for maximum productivity.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#228084"><em>In reply to JG1170:</em></a></blockquote><p>I agree about the keyboard but strongly disagree about the monitor. A tiny screen is fine for doing tiny screen things, but not for general application use. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#228312"><em>In reply to JG1170:</em></a></blockquote><p>But the only viable market for such a device would be to do things you can't do with a smartphone. If not productivity, what's the point?</p>