The Microsoft Courier, the mythical dual-screen tablet that provoked amazement and wonder…only to let us down by never being released. It was reported back in October that Microsoft was working on a similar concept called “Andromeda” that focused on pen and digital ink functionality. Now it looks a recent patent filing by the Surface team may give us more clues.
Like the Courier, this device has two screens that fold together. The “self-regulating” hinge design that allows the screen to fold is detailed extensively and uses a series of gear-like cogs to allow for various orientations. For example, there is a “notebook” orientation that allows it to be used as a normal laptop. Another orientation is called the “alarm clock” orientation in which the device stands on its own. This is likely comparable to the “tent” orientation that many 2-in-1 computers like the Lenovo Yoga or Dell XPS 13 have.
Several use cases are highlighted including extending the display across both surfaces for increased screen real estate. Several devices already attempt this including the recently released ZTE Axon M.
Another use case involves using one of the screens as a virtual keyboard and trackpad. The Lenovo YogaBook tried this with varying success depending on the reviewer. However, with the right amount of haptic feedback, it may be possible to semi-touch type with it especially since smartphones and tablets have gotten consumers used to typing on a screen.
While no stylus is present in the filing, it’s probably safe to assume Surface Pen compatibility given Microsoft’s push for pen input on its Surface products. The highly detailed and obsessive notes about the hinge is also not surprising considering the massive amount of engineering just for the Surface Pro, Surface Book, and Surface Studio hinge designs.
While we probably won’t see an official announcement any time soon, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft will to push their largely unsuccessful mobile efforts.