More 'Surface Mobile' patents emerge

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We've seen a number of patents in recent times to do with the upcoming folding Microsoft 'Surface Mobile'. It's certainly not mythical at this point, though the exact time frame for implementing the patents in a shipping product remains unclear. Some experts claim things are still on track for Spring 2018, though I wouldn't be surprised if this timeline slipped.

Here are some of the sketches from the source patent:


And MSPU has a good write-up, that includes:

Microsoft’s mythical folding smartphone/tablet has popped up once again via a detailed patent at the USPTO.

The patent for a “self-regulating hinge” shows a “pair of self-regulating hinge assemblies rotatably securing hinge ends of the first and second portions around a first hinge axis associated with the first portion and a second hinge axis associated with the second hinge axis so that an extent of rotation around the first hinge axis corresponds to an extent of rotation around the second hinge axis.


That detail could probably only be understood by a mechanical engineer, but the detailed schematics which accompany the hinge drawings are much easier to digest.

It shows the now well described dual-screened device with a first and second “surface” with the “self-regulating hinges” which would allow the device to be positioned in a number of ways similar to a Lenovo Yoga but without any of the thickness associated with a regular hinge.

Of course, if all this really is still at the design stage then it'll be a long wait for real life hardware. The patent is dated 2nd June 2017, so over six months ago, and we don't know what stage prototyping had got to then. There was the 'leaked' image here, one month afterwards. And 'Spring 2018' sounds about right from a platform (full Windows 10 on ARM) viewpoint. But even the full netbook Windows 10 on ARM hardware is facing delays into Q2 2018, so I'd expect mobile hardware to follow, taking us into Q3, 2018. 

The actual dual hinge being patented doesn't seem that new to me. Quite apart from a number of clever hinges on current hybrid devices, there's the old Nokia E90 Communicator from 2007, which had an almost identical hinge, also including wiring through the hinge mechanism. Anyone else remember that?


Source / Credit: Patent Scope