There’s a great deal of uncertainty around Microsoft’s plans for its next Surface devices. The Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 replacements appear to be delayed, and the much-rumored Surface Phone remains something of a unicorn.
However, there’s no doubt that Microsoft continues to look hard at new and potentially innovative concepts for its hardware line. One of the company’s latest patents, for a 2-in-1 with dual touchscreens, is a testament to the company’s forward-looking nature, as Hexus reports.
This isn’t the first time that Microsoft submitted a patent application for a device with a foldable display. From this latest patent’s images, however, it appears that this concept is aimed more at a tablet-sized device than a phone. Other possibilities include a companion display that could work with a smartphone or tablet to provide more screen real estate.
Another possibility is that multiple devices could combine to create larger screen surfaces, something that would be enhanced by using extremely thin or nonexistent bezels. In fact, much of the patent’s copy is devoted to describing a display that uses multiple panels bonded together in such a way that the user’s eyes are diverted away from any seams between displays.
For example, the document states, “To direct light from the curved display panels to the user’s eye, display device includes one or more redirecting optimal elements, including but not limited to a prism array, a cylinder Fresnel lens, a cylinder diffractive lens… .” The purpose of such a complex design is to “further obscure the support structure,” which means to create the illusion that multiple displays are actually a single unit.
Many patents that are filed never result in marketable products, of course, so there’s no guarantee this technology will ever see the light of day. However, Microsoft has a history recently of introducing some highly innovative and forward-looking hardware, and recent delays in the release of the next Surface machines fail to change that fact.