With their latest patent Microsoft is thinking about the children

Microsoft is normally very enterprise and productivity focussed, so it is good to see the company sometimes consider the use of their gadgets in a family context.

A new patent from the company has just been published named “CASUAL DIGITAL INK APPLICATIONS” and unlike most of Microsoft’s ideas, this one is all about keeping the little ones entertained.

Microsoft explains phones and tablets can be useful for entertaining children, but that they often contain private information you do not want to share with your kids.

They envision a suite of above lock screen games such as Hangman, tic-tac-toe, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, connecting the dots, or colouring books that are accessible if you touch the lock screen with an active pen.

A parent would then be able to pass their tablet or phone to a child, who with the pen can then entertain themselves without putting the parent’s data at risk.

The patent also notes that the state of the games may persist between sessions, or start from scratch at each session, and they envision a unique gesture to clear the slate – either by shaking the tablet (detected using the accelerometer) or erasing the data using your fist or palm, by detecting a large surface area of skin in contact with the screen. Microsoft also suggests that players may also be able to preserve their creations by entering an email address to send it off to.

Interestingly Gregg Wygonik, a designer involved with HoloLens and Xbox One who is now Principle Designer at Microsoft was also involved with this patent. We hope the idea does eventually come to fruition, to soften Microsoft’s current Work, Work, Work image.

The full patent can be seen here.