Surface Phone concept

Microsoft has patented yet another foldable mobile device that has two displays attached together with a hinge. Unlike other patents, this one shows off apps running on two displays.

The number of applications and content that users may view on a mobile computing device at a time is limited by the total number of displays that a device contains and the smaller size of mobile devices makes it difficult for users to read the content. Microsoft’s patent addresses this problem.

Microsoft patent for folable phone
Image Courtesy: USPTO

Microsoft has published multiple patents today. The USPTO published a Microsoft patent titled “ROTATIONAL APPLICATION DISPLAY FOR MULTI-SCREEN DEVICE” and it was filed on June 30, 2017.

“To address the above issues, a mobile computing device is provided. The mobile computing device may comprise a housing including a first display and a second display mounted to face away from each other, an orientation sensor mounted in the housing, the orientation sensor being configured to detect flip motions indicating that the mobile computing device has been flipped in a direction from a first side to a second side, and a processor mounted in the housing, the processor being configured to display a first application program on the first display, based on detecting a rightward flip motion from the first display to the second display, display a second application program on the second display, and based on detecting a leftward flip motion from the first display to the second display, display a third application program on the second display,” Microsoft explains.

Microsoft dual screen patent

“If applications are displayed in full-screen, a hinged mobile device having two displays may simultaneously present two applications to the user. However, if the user desires to view a third application, current mobile computing devices may require the user to enter several different inputs to open and close applications before the user may view the third application. The systems and methods described herein have been devised to address these challenges,” the patent application reads.

The second patent

There is another patent published by USPTO and it’s titled “APPLICATION PROGRAM MODE BASED ON DEVICE ORIENTATION” and it shows off a dual-screen device.

Foldable phones with apps

The patented device would be able to execute an application based on the posture or orientation of the dual-screen device.

Microsoft has explained the patent below:

“To address the issues of presentation display, a mobile computing device is provided. The mobile computing device may include a two-part housing coupled by a hinge, with first and second parts that include first and second displays, respectively. The displays may rotate around the hinge throughout a plurality of angular orientations. The mobile computing device may include an angle sensor, one or more inertial measurement units, and a processor mounted in the housing. The angle sensor may detect a relative angular orientation of the first and second displays, and the inertial measurement unit may measure a spatial orientation of the device, which together define a posture of the device. The processor may be configured to execute an application program and, based on the posture of the device, select a display mode of the application program that defines a layout of graphical user interface elements displayed on the displays”.

The third patent

The third patent is titled “Application Launching in a Multi-Display Device” and it was published by USPTO today. This patent also shows off apps running on a dual-screen tablet and the device appears to be optimized for applications.

Apps on foldable phone
Image Courtesy: USPTO

“Techniques for application launching in a multi-display device are described. In one or more implementations, an apparatus such as a mobile device includes multiple interconnected display devices. According to one or more implementations, techniques described herein enable application launching behavior to be determined based on context information. For instance, based on a determined context condition of a multi-display client device, an application launch behavior is determined and used to launch an application on the client device,” the patent description reads.

  • WPJ

    It doesn’t look highly likely to happen as it is… One major question is the price which if Samsung is any indication going to be very high, in the range of a good laptop. And the software part doesn’t appear to be THAT unique to validate spending more on such a device.

    • Alfred Soyemi

      Some OEM nowadays are leaning toward what one might call innovation killers (pricing wise), a good example is the Samsung supposedly dual screen being touted north of $1700. If BoM is about $350, would it not be wise to sell for $800 which would be 100% margin plus $50 for advertising. Most iPhone model’s BoM have not been more than $475
      More reason why it pains me when I see what I consider ridiculous pricing by these OEM for the WoA devices.

  • David Cardona

    I don’t understand why companies are interested in foldables. I believe most people don’t even want that.

    • WPJ

      It’s probably a good idea. But the people who would appreciate it the most are also the ones who are most likely to save money on purchases. I.e. not creative types or pros, just regular folks who want to watch a video or make a huge video call without having to carry a tablet and a phone. The patents do wander into the pro territory with 3 concurrently running apps but it’s hard to see how the pros will appreciate that more than using a regular Surface laptop.

      • David Cardona

        What about preventing the screen from scratching? If it folds inwards, then the two screen will be scraping against each other… if it folds outwards, then since there are double screens no matter which side you put it on it scrape against the surface like the table. In a couple of months probably not noticeable, but couple of years…? I don’t know.

    • There is a huge market for foldable. It solves requirement of large screen+large battery but small to carry around.

      • David Cardona

        How about the scratching of the displays, how will it solve that?

        • Newer displays are already scratch resistant and anyways everyone puts screen protectors nowadays for their phones.

          So it’s the least of the concerns.

          • David Cardona

            Personally I would have to see that tested over a long period of time. At work people do brag that their screens are scratch resistant and then in a couple of months you start to see some slight scratches, and this is people who put the phone down on it’s back with the case. Can’t imagine how it would be with the display directly onto the surface. Another point made in another discussion is, since this is the first time it’s being implemented no one really knows the durability of the display folding, expanding and contracting constantly. How long will that last before it’s starts to wear out?Only long term testing will show.

          • Let’s wait and watch how it pans out.

            After using multiple monitors for so long, secondary screen on mobile keeps me excited.

  • RTinE

    No telephony, just another small foldable computer.