Another day, another Microsoft patent to examine. As noted by The Verge, Microsoft recently filed a patent for a "Hinged Device," possibly revealing more details about the company's long-rumored Surface Phone device. The patent is filed by the same engineers on the Surface team responsible for hinges on the Surface Book, so this may or may not be for a device which is coming soon.
As the name for the patent suggests, the newest patent is all about a device with a foldable screen and the workings of the hinges. A full copy of the patent is available here, but it's very technical and is best read by an engineer. The patent appears to have been filed internationally on June 2, 2017, which is not that long ago. The most interesting part for the non-engineer, though, is the abstract which refers to a "self-regulating hinge."
The description relates to hinged devices, such as hinged computing devices...The example can also include a first display positioned on the first portion and wrapped around the hinge end between the pair of self-regulating hinge assemblies. The example can further include a second display positioned on the second portion and wrapped around the hinge end between the pair of self-regulating hinge assemblies.
From the image above it's obvious that the device in question here has two separate screens which are connected to each other by the said "self-regulating hinge," thus allowing for the device to be folded flat. With all the patent markings removed, one can see this is similar to Lenovo's Yoga devices. Subsequent diagrams show that the device in question can flip over and be used in a tent or nightstand mode, or as one large screen.
There are even technical details on the inner workings of the hinge, showing that it may depend on gears, or cogs to work. Interestingly, these hinges close a gap in the display, with the diagrams demonstrating a single UI expanding across the gaps between the two displays. The diagram also shows an on-screen virtual keyboard and trackpad, again suggesting multi-use scenarios for this device.
Though these patents don't make reference to any software or stylus/inking aspects, the device seen in these diagrams appear very similar to the Microsoft patents for a Courier style device initially revealed about two months ago. It is noted by Windows Central that this device would run the modular and adaptive Andromeda OS, part of Windows 10 Core OS, complete with a dedicated notebook style journal app.
Given the recent hints of folding screens in the Whiteboard app and Microsoft CEO's Satya Nadella's comments about the company working on a “ultimate mobile device,” things are shaping up nicely for the Surface Phone. "Again, there is still no evidence if this device is truly real, but the patents do show that Microsoft is at least thinking about a foldable device. As always, best to keep tuned for more in the months ahead.