The dream of a flexible, foldable computing device has long been alive in the bowels of Microsoft, with various prototypes being developed, and even a full-blown concept, the Courier, getting some development time in 2009.
The latest evidence that this dream will just not die is a new patent filed for in November 2016 and recently published, showing a newly developed hinge which would use a combination of clever mechanics and magnets to create a foldable device which when closed remained securely so, and when opened also had some rigidity and a near flush join between the two halves of the display.
Microsoft’s Surface line, of course, makes it clear that the company is not afraid of either of these technologies, with the Surface Pro and Type cover using magnets extensively, while the Surface Book and Surface Studio both feature impressive mechanical designs. The 1st named inventor for the above device listed, Kabir Siddiqui, had earlier patented the Surface Kickstand.
We have seen a somewhat less impressive version of the idea developed by the same team, which uses a flexible display instead.
Unlike the above device, the new design would not rely on any new technology, and would likely be faster to bring to market, but also somewhat heavier due to the larger number of mechanical parts.
While it is clear some parts of Microsoft are still actively working on the idea, whether this means the device is ever coming to market is much less so. It is, however, likely that there are some pretty cool prototypes somewhere in Microsoft’s skunkworks.