We’ve known for a while (or at least hoped) that Microsoft is working on a new mobile device with foldable screens, and in the last few months, we’ve been flooded with patents providing us with a glimpse into how the whole thing could work.
Judging from all these tidbits of info, the new mobile device, be it a tablet or a smartphone, will come with foldable screens connected to each other by a new hinge that would support several form factors, including tablet and smartphone when the device is closed shut like a book.
And a newly-discovered patent called “Modular hinge for a computing device” not only that describes the hinge that Microsoft might be planning to use, but it also brings forward an idea that until now has rarely been discussed: what if Microsoft’s new project is actually a modular device?
The patent explains how one of the screens could be completely detached from the other, which means that each could work independently, probably for different purposes. This suggests the Surface Phone/Andromeda device could embrace an idea similar to the one used for the Surface Pro, which comes with a detachable keyboard, allowing a quick conversion from laptop to tablet.
The abstract section of the patent and the drawing you can see attached to the article describe in detail how this entire system could be implemented:
“A modular hinge is described for a computing device where the computing device comprises two leaves detachably connected using the modular hinge. The hinge compromises a first hinge portion and a second hinge portion. Each hinge portion has as hinge portion body having a convex face configured to enable one of the leaves of the computing device to rotate against the convex face.
Each hinge portion body has a mating face generally opposite the convex face, the mating face comprising at least one attachment element. Each hinge portion comprises a hinge pin configured to rotatably attach the hinge portion to one of the leaves of the computing. The at least one attachment element of each hinge portion is configured to removably attach the hinge portion together.”
As a reminder, patents aren’t supposed to be considered living proof that a certain device or feature is coming to the market, so take this with a pinch of salt for now. If you want to see the glass half-full, expect the Surface Phone/Andromeda to launch sometime this year.