Microsoft’s researchers have been busy as usual, and their latest invention is rather unusual.
They write the holy grail is a a large display in a small form factor, but that flexible and rollable displays suffer from mechanical stress which eventually damage the electronic bits.
Their solution is a passive, unpowered flexible screen which can therefore not be damaged and a low-power pico-projector to project the image onto it.
By using a specially crafted surface for the “screen” which incorporates lenses and other light redirection materials and designs, they can make the resulting surface high contrast but still low power, and by adding cameras and other sensing technology they can make the surface touch or multi-touch sensitive.
See the drawings below which illustrates the technology.
It is not know if Microsoft will ever turn this design into a product, but the solution to the problem of foldable displays is certainly novel.
See the full patent, filed in 2011, here.