Microsoft’s Surface products have always had more than a hint of professionalism about them. These devices look slick and are for the productivity minded. Over the years, we have seen Microsoft utilize various manufacturing materials, among them fabric, like new Alcantara keyboards. It seems Redmond is working on integrating fabric in a more fluid way for future devices.

A new Microsoft patent titled “FORMING TOUCH SENSOR ON FABRIC”, the company describes sensors in Surface hardware that create small fabrics. Touch sensors could be created atop fabric to be used on hardware, including handheld devices, laptops, and wearables.

While the exterior would be a fabric covering, the sensor underneath would be fully interactive with the device:

“The tactile interface provided by the first and second touch sensors, may be in addition to a tactile interface provided by a touch-sensitive screen incorporated with the display,” Microsoft explains.

“In such an example, various touch-based input gestures may be used for user interface interactions, e.g. to perform a selection operation in place of or in addition to a touch screen input. This may allow touch-based user inputs to be made without requiring a user to release a grip of the hand-held computing device to use the touch screen, and may also allow a greater variety of user inputs to be made.”


Elsewhere in the filing, Microsoft discusses smart fabrics that would function on a head-mounted display, such as HoloLens. The company shows how the fabric could allow embedded touch sensors for performing actions.

“The touch sensor may be used to detect various touch inputs and touch gestures from a wearer touching the outer surface of the adjustable band at the location of the touch sensor.

“Detected touch signals may be delivered to the controller to perform actions on the head-mounted display device, such as to control a virtual cursor, scroll through settings or displayed imagery, adjust volume of audio output, and/or perform a selection of a displayed element.”