September 27, 2018
A newly-public patent filed by Microsoft suggests that the tech giant may have plans to significantly revamp its flagship line of touchscreen devices.
The Microsoft Surface product line includes a variety of high-end personal touchscreen computers and interactive whiteboards. The new patent suggests that Microsoft is taking steps to improve the ergonomics and aesthetics of its Surface products. Currently, the Surface and Surface Pro lines feature a three-setting “kickstand” device for positioning the display, which can create functionality issues during use on a lap or shallow desk.
The patent application was filed in February 2018 and the patent, titled “Computing Devices, Removal Support Devices and methods of use,” was published on September 7, 2018.
The background to the patent application notes that the increasing popularity of hybrid computers means that the “friction hinge” on a shared edge between the display and keyboard is no longer the default connector system.
For example, an integrated support device may allow users to mount the device to “various removal support devices.” The patent lists a height-adjustable stand or hand straps, such as those used in professional sports settings, as potential support options. Further, in part because the patent states that the invention could allow a display to be inserted into a kiosk, it appears that the patent is aimed at business or retail applications of Surface products.
Some commentators have suggested that the patent shows Microsoft has chosen to abandon the kickstand, a unique feature of the Surface tablet line, in favour of a stand similar to those used with Apple’s iPad product family. To date, Apple has not released a product using an integrated kickstand-style supporting system.
Author: Wes Dutcher-Walls