Surface Book's Detaching Mechanism Involves A Little Software Audio Theater

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Surface Book Muscle Wire Lock

Microsoft Surface Book’s one-of-a-kind hinge folds and detaches to transform from laptop, to clipboard mode, and then into a creative canvas. Surface Book uses Muscle Wire to hold its screen in place securely, while still allowing it to detach perfectly with the push of a button.

Here’s what happens when you want to detach the device,

  • You press the dedicated keyboard key for a couple of seconds until you hear a satisfying click,
  • Then you can grab a corner and tip the top right out of its Surface Book seating.

This simple process involves a combination of hardware engineering and a little software audio theater. Panos Panay explained why they used software audio to Mashable in an interview. Microsoft tried several detachment solution which involved levers, solenoids and even hydraulics, and they finally settled on an alloy called Nitinol. It has a sort of “muscle memory” and tightens when you charge it, that’s why it is called ‘Muscle Wire’. When you press the button, tiny metal plates where pulled silently sideways by a collection of Nitinol springs. Since it doesn’t make any sound, Microsoft decided to add sound design to give you confidence. The click you hear when releasing and securing the Surface Book top is nothing but audio generated through software.

“That’s what gives me confidence on stage to pick it up without hesitation,” explained Panos Panay.

This level of attention to detail is what makes Surface Book a great product.

Surface Book is now available for pre-order from Amazon and Microsoft Store. Find links below.

Microsoft Store:

Surface Pro 4 Estimated retail price (USD)
Intel® Core™M2, 128GB and 4 GB of RAM $899
Intel® Core™ i5, 128 GB and 4 GB of RAM $999
Intel® Core™ i5, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM $1,299
Intel® Core™ i5, 256 GB and 16 GB of RAM $1,499
Intel® Core™ i7, 1TB and 16 GB of RAM $2,699


Surface Book Estimated retail price (USD)
Intel® Core™ i5, 128 GB and 8 GB of RAM $1499
Intel® Core™ i5, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM $1599
Intel® Core™ i5, 256 GB and 8 GB of RAM (dGPU) $1,899
Intel® Core™ i7, 512 GB and 16 GB of RAM (dGPU) $2,699

More about the topics: microsoft, Surface, surface book