Is Microsoft's Folding Display Patent A Precursor To A Dual-Screen Surface PC?
A recently published patent application filed in the US by Microsoft describes a "multi-sided electromagnetic coil access assembly" that would be the crux of a folding PC display. Or in other words, think of Samsung's Galaxy Fold, only instead of a phone that opens up into a tablet, this could be a dual-display variant of a future Surface PC.
This is not the first time we have heard of Microsoft toying with the idea of a foldable PC. If you follow these things, Andromeda should ring a bell. Somewhat reminiscent of the Courier concept from a long time ago, Andromeda is said to be the codename of a rumored dual-screen device Microsoft is working on, which would pair two displays side-by-side in a book-style picture frame format.
Rumors of such have been flying for two years (maybe more). Microsoft is no longer interested in building smartphones as it once was, but a dual-display form factor could be in the cards.
Source: Microsoft (via USPTO)
Microsoft's latest patent seems to suggest it has an idea of how a dual-display concept might be implemented, without the same introductory pitfalls that plagued Samsung's initial Galaxy Fold handset (which is set for a relaunch next month, by the way).
"An example implementation provides a computing a device including a first computing device portion having one or more electrical components, a first side, a second side, an electromagnetic coil, and a first metal frame having a first through-slot," the abstract reads.
The abstract goes on to explain there being a second computing device portion with one or more other electrical components, along with a mechanical joint, and other high-level details on the overall assembly. Accompanying images show a device open and laying flat, and folding onto itself.
"A mechanical joint connects the first computing device portion and the second computing device portion such that the first side is positioned to face the third side and the electromagnetic coil overlaps the first through-slot and the second through-slot along an axis running orthogonal to the first computing device portion and the second computing device portion. Control circuitry adjusts matching to compensate different physical configurations, and firmware switches the radio frequency configuration," the patent states.
Microsoft actually filed the patent nearly two years ago, in February 2018. It's hard to tell what might have changed since then, both in how Microsoft might approach a folding PC concept, and whether it is still (or ever truly was) interested in such a thing.
Bear in mind that Microsoft is largely responsible for popularizing the 2-in-1 form factor. Traditional clamshell laptops ruled the day when Microsoft decided to dabble in hardware with its first Surface, and now 2-in-1 devices and detachables are fairly common.