In the United States, part of the process of invention includes filing a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Last week, that office published a Microsoft patent application for what is being called a "next generation low profile notebook pointing stick."
The patent makes it seem as though Microsoft wants to bring back technology to the enterprise market that it once abandoned and eventually revived by IBM. The patent filing also shows that Microsoft may be considering using this technology in a future Surface Book, to perhaps better help appeal to enterprise users.
As per the patent description on Patently Apple, the Microsoft invention covers a low profile and is a small footprint gel-based pointing device with a tactile surface on the first side. The underside, meanwhile, is a base surface that is opposite to the first side. Additionally, it also appears that the tactile surface will be the main source of input from a user.
In the same patent description, Microsoft also describes that the pointing device can use different layers of force to trigger a translation of gestured by the Surface Book to modify a user interface. It also appears that the gel-based pointing device is a combination with an optical lens and image sensor, meaning that the image sensor can be used for authentication.
The patent was initially filed last December, so it remains unclear if these features will be introduced anytime soon. Any filed patent frequently requires levels of both bewilderment and acknowledgment, so this patent may also not necessarily mean a lot at the moment. Microsoft may just be using this description in the patent to protect the invention from getting pre-empted, but also, gain proper the legal protection for their idea.