Microsoft files patent for secondary low-power smartphone display

By on April 23, 2012, 4:30 PM

Those who feel that Microsoft’s most innovative days are behind them might want to reconsider that opinion as a string of recent patent applications suggest otherwise. The latest idea from Redmond involves adding a secondary screen on the back of a smartphone to display information that would otherwise require the user to turn on the main display.

The idea is that a secondary, low powered (think e-ink) display could be utilized on the rear of a smartphone that would work in tandem with the handset’s primary screen. By showcasing information like the time, e-mail or text message notifications or WiFi signal strength, the user wouldn’t have to activate the main display as often, resulting in improved battery life.

Patent Bolt suggest that a smartphone equipped with a secondary display could be run by a low-power processor, again reducing overall power consumption as the primary processor wouldn’t be required to perform calculations for the extra screen.

Of course, this idea isn’t exactly new as many clamshell phones offered a secondary outer display to show the time or a new message notification, but we can’t recall a modern-day smartphone using similar technology.

Either way, it seems that dual display smartphones are coming at some point down the line.  A concept video from Nokia that surfaced late last year suggests that every surface of future phones could be touch sensitive. A similar patent from Samsung would use additional screen real estate as a smart skin of sorts, wrapping around the entire device.

User Comments: 6

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gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I did have one of those phones with a little display on the outside of the clam shell, and it was really nice. You could see who was calling right away or some little blurb of info.

Guest said:

That's ridiculous. If there's evidence of previous art, there's no way any company can honor such a patent. Maybe I should patent a "surface that presents visual representation of physical world" or "device that produces sounds by means of electromagnetic wave" or "input device that uses an arrangement of buttons on a flat surface"? How much money would be in it for me?

Guest said:

I'm fed up with all these patents. It's time for a revolution! Time to revolt! Ohh...wait no we can't, MS already has a patent for revolting.

yRaz yRaz said:

I guess that makes using a case out of the question.

Scshadow said:

Guests are straight up cra cra. First guest needs to realize, a 2nd display on the reverse side of a smartphone is unique and whoever comes up with that idea needs to be credited. 2nd Guest has become cynical about the patent system. Although somewhat justified, the alternative is not having a patent system.

I guess that makes using a case out of the question.

Not really. Its the corner and the sides that really need the protection. You'd have the same cases except screen cutouts on both sides.

Guest said:

Cool, now both sides of the phone can get scratched.

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