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Microsoft’s Patent Application for Digital Inking on the back of the Surface Device

December 17, 2018


Microsoft has filed a patent application in an attempt to re-imagine the use of otherwise unused space on computer devices such as the Microsoft Surface. The application, which was recently published, shows a “reflective multilayer structure to present information on the external surface” of a Surface device.

In the patent filing, Microsoft explains that consumers seek small and more powerful electronic devices that adapt existing device components for new or multiple purposes. It notes that there is unused surface area on many electronic devices such as laptops that have no current functional electronic utility. For example, some devices include surface area near the keyboard or touchpad that is largely unused except as a resting place for a user’s wrists.

One proposed implementation of the reflective space is to make it metallic so that it is uniform in colour and tone with the other parts of the device. Additionally, touch seems to be supported as well as the use of fingers or a stylus to draw or write on the surface. Another proposed version of the panel involves its use as an OLED, LCD or LED display while the device is closed.

If implemented, this technology could help increase the versatility of these devices, which may give Microsoft a competitive edge in the 2-in-1 computer arena.


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