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Microsoft added a new wrinkle to the dual-screen tablet space with a new design for a dual-screen tablet where each pane can be used both together and separately.
As usual, the design uses the magic of magnets, and the November 2018 patent notes:
The description relates to devices that can include first and second portions. A virtual magnetic hinge assembly can rotationally secure the two portions yet a user can separate the device portions as desired. One example can include a first elongate magnetic hinge assembly encapsulated in a first end of the first portion and a second elongate magnetic hinge assembly encapsulated in a first end of the second portion. The first and second elongate magnetic hinge assemblies can bias the first ends together while allowing the first and second portions to be rotated through a range of rotations.
The magnets would be specially arranged along one edge of the two tablets and would allow the device to be held in both a closed position, open position and arranged 90 degrees as a laptop.
Microsoft notes one of the advantages of a virtual hinge would be that it would be impossible for dust to enter the hinge, and that the two sides could be used separately.
While it is unlikely we will see this design in a Microsoft product any time soon, it would be ideal for use in an educational setting where students with separate Surface Go tablets, for example, could join them together to create a larger virtual canvas for working on group projects.
The full patent can be seen here.