Microsoft Patents Show that the Company is on a Roll, Deadly Focused on Delivering a Foldable Dual Display Device
As far as patent filings go, Microsoft is on a roll over the last year, deadly focused on delivering a foldable dual display device (01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06 & more). The idea became more of a reality earlier this year when Intel revealed project Copper Canyon as presented in the photo below.
Foldable smartphones coming from Huawei and Samsung later this year use a single large display that actually folds over. When unfolded it provides users with a larger display to play games with or to watch content like movies, mobile TV and YouTube content in a wider format.
Devices like Copper Canyon, on the other hand, are being designed for enterprise and business professionals along with college students where multitasking is more of a priority as is a manageable form factor.
Our report briefly takes a look at three patents that have come to light in just the last ten days from Microsoft that illustrate a big push is on to deliver this product for themselves and for their partners like HP, Dell, Lenovo and others. More than likely it's being designed as a next-gen 5G era device.
On April 4th, the U.S. Patent Office published Microsoft's patent application 20190103073 titled "Manufacture and Optical Calibration Methods for Displays" specifically for dual display devices.
Microsoft notes in their filing that with the advent of dual-display devices, conventional display calibration methods have offered little for ensuring optical equivalence between displays in a single device. Display devices that undergo optical calibration at manufacture may include a single stored one-time programmable value for gamma correction. At assembly, the luminance and color of the display may not be precise to the one-time programmable value due to tolerance ranges.
Being that dual display devices may be used with important medical, communication and e-reader applications, Microsoft has invented a method for optical calibration of a plurality of displays that may include, at a manufacturing stage, creating a plurality of one-time programmable (OTP) values for each display. Each OTP value may include a value of manufacture gamma voltage corresponding to a manufacture luminance and color value for a respective display. The method may include storing the plurality of OTP values in a corresponding non-volatile memory of each respective display.
Microsoft's method may further include, at an assembly stage, connecting each display to a respective power management integrated circuit (PMIC). The method may include applying a plurality of assembly test voltages to each display corresponding to the value of manufacture gamma voltage of each stored OTP value, and may include measuring differences between a plurality of assembly luminance and color values for each display and an expected luminance and color value as a result of applying each assembly test voltage corresponding to each stored OTP value. The method may further include, for each display, selecting one value of manufacture gamma voltage of a respective OTP value for the respective display corresponding to a minimal difference between the plurality of assembly luminance and color values and the expected luminance and color value.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 1 illustrates two displays in a two-panel device, luminance and color of the displays measured by a color analyzer; FIG. 5 is a schematic for measuring voltage output of a power management integrated circuit (PMIC) of each display and determining voltage output corresponding to minimized error of luminance and color values, including a plot of the values versus gamma voltage.
Days earlier on April 2nd the U.S. Patent Office granted Microsoft patent 10,248,224 titled "Input based on Interactions with a Physical Hinge" that once again is in context with dual display devices.
Microsoft notes that mobile devices provide today's user with a variety of different functionalities, and in many instances allow the user to directly interact with objects displayed via touch-sensitive display devices. Now with dual display devices coming to market the connecting hinge can be used with next-gen gesture input modalities.
Microsoft further notes that their invention covers techniques for input based on interactions with a physical hinge that connects two displays. In implementations, these interactions allow users to initiate a variety of multitasking interactions that use at least two different displays. In one or more implementations, the techniques described provide a streamlined and elegant way for a user to provide multitasking-related commands to a system to perform actions such as to transition between multitasking and non-multitasking scenarios.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 4 depicts an example implementation scenario for angle ranges of a physical hinge mapped to different states; FIG. 7 depicts example implementation scenarios for a multimodal combination of a hinge interaction with an additional input modality.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 8 below depicts an example implementation #800 for a multimodal combination of a hinge interaction with an additional input modality. For example, the client device #102 includes the sensors such as dedicated grip sensors or other sensors configured to detect touch input via an exterior, such as a backside #802. Alternatively, the client device can include touch input surfaces, such as an additional touch screen or touchpad on the backside of the client device.
And lastly, on April 9th the U.S. Patent Office granted Microsoft patent 10,253,804 simply titled "Hinged Device." Microsoft's patent FIG. 2B illustrates one method of using their dual display device, like a mini notebook with virtual keyboard and trackpad.
Microsoft notes in their filing that "Leveraging a hinge connecting multiple displays, devices described enable a range of interaction models that take advantage of the hinge. In some implementations, interactions with the hinge can be combined with one or more additional input signals to modify an operation associated with the hinge interaction."
For more on this, see Patently Mobile's patent application report on this dating back to July 2018 here.
Apple has a number of foldable and dual display patents on record that you could review here.
Apple is under attack by competitors beating them to market with new trends like triple and quadruple cameras, slider phones that provides a notch-free display, reverse wireless charging and more. Some of the trends matter while others not.
A case in point is found in LG's latest smartphone the G8 ThinQ that introduces In-Air gesturing. While Apple has been working on this technology for years, LG got the leap on Apple. However, two major Vlogs (Marques Brownlee and Unbox Therapy) reviewing the new phone have mocked LG's Air-Motion feature saying that it's useless, slow and actually two steps backward.
So while it's great to see an Apple competitor like Microsoft race to beat Apple to market with a dual display device to shake things up, it's no guarantee that it could deliver a knockout blow like the original iPhone did when it came to market in 2007.
Between the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft's market leadership was destroyed like Chernobyl. It was a complete meltdown. Microsoft has been trying to return the favor for years now with new and interesting hardware and yet they've been unable to land a meaningful punch against at Apple to date. Will a dual display smart device be any different? More than likely not, though only time will tell.