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New Surface Phone/Andromeda patent details the free-stop 360-deg Hinge & why dual-display devices are needed

The ultimate mobile device from Microsoft is nearing its development with latest patents revealing the near-final details of the foldable Surface Mobile/Phone Andromeda device. Earlier a Microsoft patent revealed 3D renders, OLED display and modified USB port C of the dual-display Surface device.

Now a recent Microsoft patent goes deeper into the details of the free-stop hinge mechanism that will enable 360-deg rotation of the dual-displays of the Surface Andromeda device. The patent also interestingly mentions why such dual-display foldable devices are needed in the first place. Read Microsoft’s explanation below.

Along with these enhanced capabilities has come a demand for larger displays to provide a richer user experience. Mobile phone displays have increased in size to the point where they can now consume almost the entire viewing surface of a phone. To increase the size of displays any further would require an increase in the size of the phones themselves. This is not desirable, as users want their mobile phone to fit comfortably in their hand or in a shirt or pants pocket.

[003] As a result, dual-display devices are becoming more popular. With a dual-display device, the mobile phone or tablet can include an open, expanded position where both displays are flush so that the user feels like there is a single integrated display. In a closed, condensed position, both displays are face-to-face so as to protect the displays. In a fully-open position, the dual displays can sit back-to-back so the user needs to flip the device to view the opposing display.

We had earlier exclusively reported that Microsoft Phone/Andromeda device will come with two modes: Tablet and Mobile modes. Above description by Microsoft seems to verify that.

Now coming to the hinge mechanism, the patent first talks about why hinges on such dual-display devices can be problematic.

Hinges for such dual-display devices are problematic. Typically, the hinges can protrude from the device as it switches between positions. As devices continually become thinner, hinges need to be adapted to accommodate the thinner displays without further protrusion from the back of the device as it is opened and closed. Additionally, excess slack can make the two displays feel loosely connected. Other problems include that the displays do not open and close smoothly. Still yet another problem is the ability to stop the displays in any position as the displays are opened and closed. Torque or friction hinges are known and offer resistance to a pivoting motion. However, the friction hinges can be bulky and protrude from the device.

Then it talks into details a hinge mechanism that will enable 360-deg rotation and free-stop feature for this dual-display device.

The hinges provide numerous advantages. Foremost, the flexible connection members stay within the channels of the hinge lugs and do not extend (or extend minimally) beyond the surface of the dual-display device as it is being rotated through 360 degrees. Moreover, the flexible connection members can be easily tightened, such as by turning a screw that is exposed externally with the dual-display device in a closed position. Moreover, the friction hinge can allow the device to free stop in any position through the 360 degree rotation. The hinge mechanisms and the friction hinges can be positioned adjacent to one another to provide both features simultaneously.

We can again see the mention of a Tablet mode and Mobile mode.

FIG. 1 shows an embodiment of a hinged mobile electronic device 100 comprising a first display device 110 and a second display device 120 coupled together with one or more hinges 130, 132. The mobile electronic device 100 can be, for example, a hand-held device, such as a smart phone, or a portable computer, such as a lap-top. Each device 110, 120 can include a display and each device sits end-to-end with the hinges 130, 132 coupling the ends together with sufficient tension that the devices can pivot relative to each other around the ends. The mobile electronic device 100 is shown in a tablet mode with the first and second display devices aligned in a plane so as to form a larger display area. As shown in phantom lines 140, 142, the second display device 120 can rotate counterclockwise relative to display device 110 or can rotate clockwise, as shown by phantom line 150. As described further below, the hinges 130, 132 allow a full 360 degrees of rotation between the first and second display devices 110, 120. For purposes of brevity, the embodiments described herein are shown for two-display devices, but can be extended to additional display devices, such as 3 or more displays.

Surface Phone/Andromeda device Features, Specs, UI & other details:

You can read our exclusive coverage of Surface Phone/Mobile top features/specs/UI design, photos & other details here. We posted some evidence that shows that Microsoft is already working to curate Apps collections for the Surface Phone/Mobile. A recent job opening has revealed that Microsoft may be working on a 1st-party hardware (Surface device/phone) powered by just announced Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor.

We had exclusively reported that 2018 may see Surface Mobile (Surface Phone) & Windows mobile devices from top vendors too. In a recent poll, our readers selected Surface Phone as the most appealing name for the ultimate mobile device from Microsoft. Surface Mobile and Note names came at 2nd and 3rd rank.

Nayan has more than 10 years of experience of covering Technology and innovations. He is a big Nokia fan and Tech disruptions aficionado. He loves to review new cool gadgets and writing about Windows, Gadgets and general Technology stuff. He has been associated with other well-known Tech sites GadgetOx and Nokiapoweruser since long. He currently sports a Lumia 950 XL and Nexus 5X. Other interests include listening to Nu-Metal Hits and Kick-Boxing. Write to him at Email: [email protected]
  • satyan

    This more than the patent proposes new renders..

    But how the tablet mode enables displays to appear flush with each other is not clear

    • Kamal

      The hinge enables very close proximity of the dual displays enabling them to appear as flush.

  • Bob

    I would be careful putting watermarks on these images. They are published from the patent and likely have copyright protection. A watermark suggests you own them, and screenshotting doesn’t make them yours.

    • Kamal

      Really? Screenshotting and watermarking makes others (lazy cop-paste bloggers) from misusing them . I hope you understand it.

      • Bob

        I understand, but it’s not a valid legal defense; unless it’s 100% original content (or content purchased with full rights) it still probably breaks copyright. Even under Creative Commons (free use images from wikipedia, flikr etc.) you aren’t allowed to modify in a way that suggests ownership, and any other modifications have to be stated.

        I doubt Microsoft would call you out on it but it never hurts to be careful 🙂